Zoo News

Zoo News

The Dallas Zoo Is All About the Koala Walkabout for Spring Break
Feb 16, 2012

DALLAS — There is something new “out back” in ZooNorth – koalas, lorikeets, and kookaburras. These Australian animals will be the stars of the new Koala Walkabout, presented by Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Located next to the kangaroo, wallaby, and emu habitat at the end of Primate Place, the new addition opens Saturday, March 10 in time for kids to enjoy during spring break. Radio Disney will help kick off the spring break holiday with music, games, and high-energy fun from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 10.

“Koalas are incredibly charismatic,” said Gregg Hudson, executive director of the Dallas Zoo and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. “It is amazing that kids know so much about them, even though koalas live in a remote part of the world. We also are excited to add another interactive area to the Zoo with lorikeet feedings. Our goal in building the Koala Walkabout is to provide interactive opportunities for people to build a greater connection with wildlife.”

“Bringing koalas to the Dallas Zoo is an expensive and complicated endeavor so we are asking the community to help support our new Australian exhibits by making charitable gifts to our Koala Club. Koala Club donors will help us pay for these added expenses without having to increase our basic admission rates,” said Michael L. Meadows, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoological Society. “With these goals in mind, we are delighted that the Kimberly-Clark Foundation has agreed to help underwrite a portion of these expenses through their presenting sponsorship of our Koala Walkabout at the Dallas Zoo.”

Cuddly Koalas

Incorrectly identified as bears, koalas are actually marsupials and more closely related to kangaroos since they have pouches where their babies, also called joeys, grow. They have large leathery noses and claws that are kept sharp by climbing trees. Koalas were once hunted for their thick, gray fur. Today, greater risk results from smaller habitats, encounters with dogs, and collisions with cars as they try to cross roads.

Native to the eastern bush and forests of Australia, the “koala” gets its name from the Aboriginal word for “no drink” because koalas get most of the moisture they need from the eucalyptus leaves they consume. In fact, the only food koalas consume are eucalyptus leaves. That is why the Dallas Zoo’s animal nutrition center is shipping in fresh branches twice a week. It will cost $65,000 to feed two koalas for a year. The leaves are toxic to most animals, but a slow metabolism and special bacteria passed from a mother to her joey while nursing allow their bodies to obtain the nutrients they need from eucalyptus leaves. That slow metabolism and the sedative effect of the eucalyptus diet is also why koalas sleep for almost 19 hours each day!

Kobi and Tekin, both males, came to Dallas on loan from the San Diego Zoo. They spend most of their time, as do koalas in the wild, dozing in a eucalyptus tree. Guests can view them through glass windows that surround their climate-controlled exhibit.

Kobi’s name means “medicine man” in the Aboriginal language. The five-year-old koala is very interactive and inquisitive with his keepers and enjoys back scratches from them. He has a big personality and can be very playful, but occasionally he tries to show his keepers that he is the boss.

Tekin is four years old. His name is the Aboriginal word for “escape.” After being separated from his mother and other females when he matured, he escaped his enclosure to return to the females’ enclosure twice. Tekin is shy around keepers and prefers to be left alone most times. He’s a very good eater and is considered to be very handsome.

Lively Lorikeets

Across from the koala habitat, guests can visit the new interactive lorikeet aviary and feed these Australasian parrots a cup of nectar. The rainbow lorikeets include the Swainson’s, Edward’s, and green-naped subspecies. Guests also will find two dusky lories, which are larger than the lorikeets and have shorter tails. Lorikeets and lories are both members of the parrot family. They are characterized by thick, brush-like tongues that are ideal for lapping up the liquid nectar in flowers. The colorful birds may also consume pollen and a few insects during the process and occasionally eat ripe fruit.

Outside the aviary, formerly the colobus monkey habitat, guests can purchase a cup of nectar to feed the lorikeets and lories for $1. The friendly, hand-raised birds will sit on guests’ arms or hands and lap the nectar from the cup.

Laughing Kookaburras

Don’t miss the new kookaburras in front of the kangaroo, wallaby, and emu habitat. Brother and sister, Bondi and Adelaide are 12 years old. Named for the raucous laughing noise they make, the laughing kookaburras are members of the kingfisher family and are found in the same type of bush land and wooded habitats as koalas. These carnivorous birds swoop down to capture their prey, including rodents, birds, and insects. They then smash their prey against trees to pulverize the bones so it is easier to consume.

About the Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo is the largest zoological experience in Texas with 106 acres of developed land. It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. American Airlines is the official airline of the Dallas Zoo. The Zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis). Admission is $15 for ages 12-64, $12 for ages 3-11 and 65+, and free for ages 2 and younger and DZS members. The Zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Admission is $5 per person and hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through February) For more information, download the free iPhone app, visit DallasZoo.com, or call (469) 554-7500.

Contact:  Susan Eckert
Eckert Communications
(214) 528-9347 office
(214) 476-2008 mobile