Lone Pine’s 130 koalas live in different exhibits around the sanctuary, according to their age and gender. These homes include the “Boys”, the “Kindergarten” (juvenile koalas), "Mums and Bubs", and the “Retirement Home”, where the oldies go for a more quiet and relaxed lifestyle. Make sure you check out each and every home during your visit.
The "Kindergarten" koalas are between one and two years of age. At this stage of life they are very active and playful, as they learn to socialise with one another. They look a little clumsy as they explore and master their climbing skills and individual personalities begin to emerge.
Is that uncomfortable?
You may see koalas sitting in some positions that do not look comfortable at all. However, the fur on koala bottoms are densely packed to ‘cushion’ the branches they sit on, and they have a bony cartilage under the skin, which is perfectly formed for sitting in the "V" shape of tree branches. Koalas have white patches on their bottom which help them camouflage so they are hard to spot from the ground.
Koalas have a thick, woolly, carpet-like fur. This coat protects them from both high and low temperatures and also acts like a raincoat to repel moisture during wet weather. The fur varies in colour from light grey to brown with patches of white on the chest and neck, inside arms and legs and inside the ears.
Koalas spend almost all of their day up in the trees, meaning they have an arboreal lifestyle. These accomplished climbers can rapidly ascend tree trunks, as they are very well equipped for climbing.
Look at those claws!
Koala hands and feet have long sharp claws and thick pads for cushioning. With three fingers and two opposable thumbs on their forepaws, they have fantastic grip. On their hind paws they have a ‘grooming claw’; the first and second toes are fused together and there are two claws on this toe. They use this claw like a little comb to clean themselves.
Each koala is unique
Interestingly, each koala’s hand print is unique, just like our fingerprints.
What’s that smell?
A male koala is easily distinguished by a brown mark on his chest. The brown mark is his scent gland which he rubs against the base of the trees in his territory as well as rubbing it on the trunk as he climbs. In doing this he marks out his territory and attracts females.
Size does matter
Male koalas are larger than females. An adult male koala weighs between seven and 14 kilograms whilst females usually weigh between six and 11 kilograms.
Did you know?
Research suggests that due to the hormone testosterone, male koalas (like most mammalian males) generally have a shorter lifespan than female koalas.
How long does a koala live?
The normal life expectancy of a wild koala is eight to 10 years whilst captive koalas commonly live 12 to 15 years.
Older koalas, like older people, require extra attention. Our golden oldies are given eucalyptus branches with the most leaf tip (softer, juicier young leaves) to ensure that they have no problems eating, and they are checked more often by our veterinary staff.
The amazing Sarah
Sarah was a very special koala that lived at Lone Pine until 2001. Reaching the ripe old age of 23, Sarah made it into the Guinness Book of Records for being the world’s oldest captive koala.