Research, Connect, Protect



Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) captive husbandry guidelines

Jackson, S, Perry, L, O’Callaghan, P, Spittal, D, Romer, L & Reid, K 1999

These guidelines for the husbandry of koalas in captive populations represent the combined insights of keepers from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Healesville Sanctuary, Taronga Zoo and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The authors report on best practice principles in multiple aspects of the care and management of the species.

  In addition to the husbandry principles and procedures that have been established by practitioners through continuous processes of learning and development, the management of koalas in captivity is also governed by legal standards. Together, these sources inform all aspects of captive koala care including housing requirements, handling and transport procedures, general husbandry, health management, behavioural considerations, captive dietary requirements, breeding methods and the artificial rearing of koalas. In many cases, the authors recommend practices in these aspects of care that surpass minimum requirements to support the development of practices that are, for example, of greater benefit to the animal or more aesthetically pleasing for a sanctuary environment. These recommendations are illustrated with practical examples from wildlife sanctuaries throughout Australia. Best practice procedures described are justified with references to the typical environments and behaviours of koalas in the wild, which usually inform captive conditions. An exception is the advice provided specifically for the care of sick, aged, injured or orphaned koalas which improves the longevity of captive koalas compared to their free-ranging counterparts.

  Knowledge sharing is key to the effective management of captive animals, and is especially pertinent for a threatened species such as the koala as captive populations can help to reinforce or re-establish wild populations. Future collaborative efforts will be imperative for developing best practice principles as new possibilities for captive koala management emerge, such as the application of assisted breeding technologies and trials of preventative medicines.


Summarised by Joanna Horsfall


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