Amid the tragic news coming out of Australia due to the catastrophic fires that have caused great harm and death to many thousands of people and nearly half a billion animals, Zoo Miami is elated to announce some good news that is directly connected to the ravished continent.
For the third time in the zoo’s history and the first time in over 28 years, a surviving koala has been born at the zoo! Though the actual “birth” took place on May 30 of 2019, it was only recently the joey (baby koala) first came completely out of the pouch.
Because koalas are marsupials, they have a very short pregnancy (around 30 days) and when the baby is born, it is practically in an embryonic state, totally hairless, with non-developed eyes, tiny limbs, and the size of a bumblebee. Immediately after being born, the joey makes a difficult journey as it instinctively crawls into the mother’s pouch where it remains for approximately six months, continuing to develop, before emerging when it actually looks like a baby koala.
Those six months are the most precarious of the infant’s life (Zoo Miami lost several joeys during this period in the past) so it is not until it finally emerges from the pouch and is strong and healthy that zoo staff can breathe a sigh of relief and truly celebrate.
The joey’s mother is “Rinny,” which is short for “Merindah koolawong” which are the Dharug aboriginal words for “beautiful” and “koala.” She is 4 years old and was born at the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina on Oct. 21, 2015. She arrived at Zoo Miami on Sept. 21, 2018 and this is her first baby.
The father is “Milo,” and he is 8 years old, and was born at the San Diego Zoo on July 2, 2011. He arrived at Zoo Miami on May 3, 2016 and this also is his first baby.
Though zoo officials still are not certain of the sex of the joey, because of what is happening in Australia, zoo staff, in collaboration with the Gail S. Posner Trust, and Sanford J. Schlesinger, Trustee, principal patrons of the Koala Exhibit, have decided to name the infant, “Hope.”
It is desired that this baby koala will help to bring a small ray of hope to all that are suffering in Australia and be a symbol for a positive future for the priceless wildlife that lives there. In addition, Zoo Miami will be making a $10,000 donation to the zoo’s Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund in support of the herculean efforts being undertaken to save the countless animals being affected by this disaster. Others interested in supporting this effort can make donations by clicking on https://www.zoo.org.au/fire-fund/ or directly to the Zoo Miami Foundation at https://www.donate.zoomiami.org and stipulate “Australia” in the memo section. Those funds will be added to the initial $10,000 donation made through the Zoo Miami Conservation Fund.