Well, it’s been an exciting Koala season this year, with numerous joeys being born at Australia Zoo. However, this season delivered Australia Zoo, something extra special with the birth of an extremely rare white koala joey.
Because the joey has pigment missing from its fur it appears to have the condition known as albinism. But the small mammals’ rare appearance is caused by a recessive gene, one that is believed to be inherited from the joey’s mother Tia who has given birth to other pale coloured joeys.
The joey’s appearance according to Dr Rosie Booth, the Director of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is extremely unusual. She explains that albinism is more common than a joey born with white fur and brown eyes like Australia's Zoo’s newest joey.
In veterinary science, it’s often referred to as the ‘silvering gene’ where animals are born with white or very pale fur and, just like baby teeth, they eventually shed their baby fur and the regular adult colouration comes through, said Dr Rosie.
Different coloured koalas are quite common across the species, typically southern Koalas have darker fur than those found in Queensland and New South Wales.
“In the wild animal kingdom, it’s actually quite unfortunate to have unusually light colouration as it makes animals stand out from their camouflage risking being spotted by potential predators, so this little joey has hit the jackpot being born at Australia Zoo where every single person adores animals and gives them such great care.”
The little white joey is yet to be named, but Tourism Australia will be encouraging Australians to submit name suggestions via Facebook.
The new joey can be spotted at Australia Zoo in the ‘mums n bubs’ enclosure as the bub learns to climb and develop a taste for Eucalypt. Vets are, however, expecting the bub to change colour, so it’s best to see this rarity now before her fur begins to change.
Header: Australia Zoo