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ABQ Zoo Welcomes new Koala

Meet ABQ BioPark's new resident, Luke, a 20-month old male Queensland koala. (Courtesy of ABQ BioPark)
Meet ABQ BioPark's new resident, Luke, a 20-month old male Queensland koala. (Courtesy of ABQ BioPark)
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Albuquerque has a new resident — a male Queensland koala named Luke.

Meet ABQ BioPark’s new resident, Luke, a 20-month old male Queensland koala. (Courtesy of ABQ BioPark)

The ABQ BioPark announced today the koala and a zookeeper from the Los Angeles Zoo arrived at the zoo Monday night. The 20-month old koala was born at the L.A. Zoo, and the visiting keeper will assist for several days as Luke transitions to his new home at the zoo’s Australia exhibit.The zoo is also home to the only Victorian koala in North America — Zaki, who turns 18 in January and is also one of the oldest koalas in the country. Zaki has been in Albuquerque since 1997. Zaki will remain in the koala exhibit’s familiar branches as long as possible, being carefully monitored by keepers for age-related health issues. Koalas can live up to 20 years, according to the zoo.

“We are excited to welcome this new koala to Albuquerque,” said zoo manager Lynn Tupa. “We can be proud that we are one of only a few zoos in the country with the expertise to care for koalas. Stephanie Kain, our senior keeper for the area, has more than 12 years of experience with koalas. She even went to Australia to participate in a field study about wild koalas.”

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are a threatened species and protected by Australian law, although habitat loss continues to threaten populations. These marsupials spend most of their lives in trees, where they sleep for 18-19 hours a day.

Koalas are highly adapted to eat eucalyptus, a plant that is toxic to most animals. The BioPark ships in fresh eucalyptus branches twice a week from Arizona and Florida. While there are hundreds of Eucalyptus species, koalas have clear preferences. The zoo said it added Luke’s favorite, including Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Eucalyptus robusta, to its regular eucalyptus order.

BioPark supporters on a BioPark Backstage Tour of Australia will have the opportunity to meet Luke the Koala behind-the-scenes. And BioPark visitors can continue to see Zaki the Koala in Australia, along with tree kangaroos, wallabies, budgerigars, kookaburras, lorikeets and the country’s only Tasmanian wombats. The exhibit is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and included with regular admission.

 

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