Growth and Mortality of Koala Pouch and Back Young
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket, Q 4069.
Despite the enormous amount of attention the koala has received over recent years, there has been little information published on the normal growth, development and mortality of koala pouch and back young. This paucity of information can most probably be attributed to the difficulty in obtaining information from koala populations rather that a lack of interest being shown by researchers. Due consideration has also been given to the possibility that the required constant checking of wild animals to collect accurate information may cause enough stress or anguish to the animal to adversely affect the growth or survival of the mother and/or young. For these reasons, captive koala colonies offer a perfect opportunity to closely study koala development growth and to collect accurate information on the mortality of the young animals.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has been operating since 1927 but it is only since 1988 that the animal care unit has been genetically controlling the koala breeding process and collecting and recording accurate information on the koalas. Most of the koalas at the sanctuary are quiet in nature and due to the activities at the sanctuary, the animals are relaxed about human contact and do not become unnecessarily disturbed by the constant checks required to gather information. This paper will discuss the events leading up to the birth of a koala, the stages of development from birth to weaning and the effects if any, that these stages have on mortality. Possible ways of reducing mortality in captive animals will also be discussed. The following information has been collected from the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary koalas over the past eight breeding seasons.