Macadamia and Willow, Australia Zoo, Beerwah, Queensland
After a long wait, Australia Zoo’s newest star has finally revealed his furry face – and it’s pretty cute!
By Georgia Rickard
Published: 22 June, 2017
It’s the moment Australia Zoo has been waiting for: their newest star, Macadamia the baby male koala, is ready for his close-up. The furry little creature was born seven months ago, but this week ventured from the safety of his mum’s pouch for the first time, providing plenty of photo opportunities for lucky zoo visitors.
Koalas are no bigger than a jellybean when born, and spend their first few months away from the spotlight to grow in their mother’s pouch. At around seven months they begin clambering around Mum’s body in their first explorations of the world around them. Macadamia – who is named after the popular native Australian nut – will remain very close to his mum, Willow, until he reaches 12 months of age and becomes an independent koala. Until then, Willow will be busy teaching him plenty of important koala lessons about climbing, grooming and cuddling – so visit Macadamia in the next few months at his Sunshine Coast home and you may see him doing any of these things. You could also see him testing out differently flavoured eucalyptus leaves for the first time. Eucalyptus trees, or “gum trees” as they’re sometimes referred to in Australia, come in many different varieties, and every koala has distinct preferences on their favourite tastes. Macadamia will also soon start visiting the backs of other koalas, who will babysit him while Willow has a rest. Even koala mums need a break!
BABY KOALAS FOR EVERYONE
Macadamia is the first of 12 baby koalas who have been born at Australia Zoo this season – the rest will venture into the world in the coming weeks. Once fully grown, these koala joeys will join the 60 adult koalas already in the zoo’s three leafy koala enclosures. You can visit Macadamia and Willow at the zoo’s Koala Island enclosure, or head to the “Mums and Bubs” enclosure to see Macadamia’s fellow baby friends exploring the world for the first time. There’s also a special walk-through grove of eucalyptus trees where you can look up and spot koalas in the trees above; it also includes a shelter where you can gently pat one of these cute Aussies.
COSY CREATURE CUDDLES
Australia Zoo is also one of the only places in the country where you can experience a cuddle with a koala. This is a heavily restricted activity in Australia, but during a 30-minute “Koala Encounter” experience you’ll learn about koala habitat and feeding habits as well as important conservation measures that are underway, before having a cuddle with one of these lovely animals (they’re surprisingly heavy). Koalas are “crepuscular” animals, which means they’re more active at dawn and dusk, so the best time for a warm, sleepy cuddle is in the middle of the day.
MEET MACADAMIA’S CO-STARS
Macadamia isn’t the only cute animal you can meet here. The zoo features many native Australian animal exhibits, some of which are interactive: you can pat a dingo, feed a kangaroo, hold a wedge-tailed eagle, give an echidna a snack or run your hand along a giant python in the daily Wildlife Warriors show. At the moment, you can also share morning tea with a beautiful baby wombat, Wattle, in the zoo’s “Waddle with Wattle” experience – take a walk with this small, adorably clumsy creature and watch her snack on her favourite treat, sweet potato. There are also other native animals on display, such as rare Tasmanian devils, stunning Australian birds (including magnificent native parrots) and a range of native Australian snakes, some of which are highly venomous. (Don’t worry – they’re safely behind glass.)
AND CROCODILES TOO
Located on the naturally blessed Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia Zoo has a special place in Australia’s heart. Founded by Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, the zoo is today run by Steve’s family, who continue to uphold his legacy through the zoo’s excellent conservation and education programs. Of course, this wouldn’t be the Crocodile Hunter’s zoo without some of Steve’s famous co-stars, who have retired here after making appearances on his television series. In fact, the zoo has several enclosures featuring saltwater crocodiles – but we’d think twice before getting up close for an autograph. As Steve would say, “Crikey!”
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