Tulsa Zoo Hosts Koala Exhibit April Through July

AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIP: Take a trip down under for $6! Experience the Australian Outback at the Tulsa Zoo. A pair of male koalas will be at the zoo from April 1 to July 31. The zoo also has a collection of other Australian species such as wallabies, kangaroos and emus.

Photo courtesy of the Tulsa Zoo

The Tulsa Zoo is adding a couple of mates to its class! Maloo and Coombah, a pair of male koalas, will make the Tulsa Zoo their Outback from April 1 to July 31. This cuddly pair is on loan to the Tulsa Zoo from the San Diego Zoo. This exhibit is presented by Jackie Cooper Imports.

Koalas, indigenous to Australia, are often referred to as bears. However they are not bears. They are actually a member of a pouched-group of mammals called marsupials. Other marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies and opossums, the only marsupial found in North America.

Visitors can see the zoo’s Aussie stars in a specially designed exhibit in the zoo’s Conservation Center. Maloo is three years old and Coombah is two years old. This visit to the Tulsa Zoo will be Coombah’s first time outside the San Diego Zoo.

By participating in the San Diego Zoo loan program, the Tulsa Zoo is directly contributing funds toward habitat conservation in Australia. This loan program also enables thousands of people across the country and the world to observe these unique creatures.

The pair will be traveling from San Diego to Tulsa courtesy of Southwest Airlines. They are such important animals that they don’t get checked into baggage cargo; instead, they will be traveling in the main cabin along with their keepers. Upon their arrival to Tulsa, the zoo’s friends at Jackie Cooper Imports will chauffeur the koalas to their temporary home in one of their luxury vehicles.

According to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the koala’s current status in the wild is “lower risk.” Though that status means they are currently not threatened or endangered, it does mean that their population is likely to be threatened in the near future.

Before European settlement, there were perhaps as many as ten million koalas in the wild. Today, the population is at less than 100,000. They were hunted for their fur in the early twentieth century, and human encroachment into their habitat currently poses a risk.

Fortunately, koalas do not have many natural predators, though occasionally a dingo (an Australian dog) or a large owl will prey on them. By nature, they move slowly. In order to protect themselves, they have adapted to living high up in eucalyptus trees. In the wild, if they are on the ground too long looking for shelter, they are killed by dogs and motor vehicles. Because they do move slowly, finding a safe tree close by to climb is essential to their day-to-day life in the wild. Any decrease or loss of their natural habitat puts them at greater risk. It is estimated that 4,000 koalas are killed annually. Hence, preserving their habitat is extremely important to their survival.

The exhibit is also sponsored by Taste of the Wild Catering, 92.1 KISZ FM, 106.1 KOOL FM and Southwest Airlines.

Updated 03-28-2005

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