You’ve heard of white tigers and white cobras and perhaps might have seen their pictures or actually seen them for yourselves in zoos or wildlife parks. They are quite unusual but even more incredibly rare is a white baby koala!
That’s right a white baby koala. This joey (baby koalas are called joeys) was born recently at the Australia Zoo in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
This little female joey does not have albinism where colour is absent from all physical characteristics including skin, fur and eyes however her extremely pale colouration is caused by a recessive gene and thought to be inherited from her mother Tia who has had other pale coloured joeys in the past.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital director Dr Rosie Booth said that it’s more unusual to see a koala with fur this light with eyes and skin remaining the usual brown black than it is to see a koala with albinism.
“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,” added Dr Rosie.
In the wild such a light colouration means the animal is not well camouflaged this makes it easier for a prey to spot them and in a way this joey is lucky to be born in a zoo.
Australia Zoo’s white joey is yet to be named with Tourism Australia encouraging naming suggestions via their Facebook page showcasing her beautiful snowy face. Give it a shot and who knows there might a koala in Queensland you have the honour of naming.
As this little girl grows along with her fellow joeys, they can be spotted in Australia Zoo’s “Mums n Bubs” enclosure where they become more adventurous with climbing every day and get their taste for eucalyptus leaves. But with vets anticipating an eventual colour change, it’s best to be quick to see the unusual beauty while she’s small.