Pope John Paul II, Taylor Swift, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti and Janet Jackson — what do all of these famous people share in common?
They all have snapped photos while cradling koalas in their arms at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The pictures of these celebrities and plenty more are displayed prominently at the zoo.
And for a price, you can also do the same. Just don’t expect a soft cuddly creature out of your childhood petting zoo dreams. Koalas actually have quite bristly, coarse hair.
Visiting Lone Pine is worth a lot more than a photo op. Although I’ll admit, I have partaken in the fun myself. I did pet some koalas and kangaroos. I held a koala, but didn’t pay the extra $20 or so for documentation of the event (something I admit to regretting today — just splurge on it!!!).
Lone Pine is also, in my opinion, one of the world’s top zoos. It is pretty much the only reason that my husband and I swung through Brisbane during our two-week vacation in Australia several years ago. The zoo is located in a suburb of Brisbane, Australia, along the Brisbane River.
We knew that it wasn’t realistic to expect a koala encounter in the wild during our trip.
Indeed, the Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are fewer than 80,000 koalas remaining in Australia today — and that there could be as few as 43,000. Koalas have suffered population losses due to lost habitat, road accidents, dog attacks, bushfires, and other dangers. Koalas were listed as vulnerable by Australia in 2012.
The sanctuary was founded in 1927 with only two koalas, and now has more than 130 koalas.
The also are plenty of BABY animals — which is just cute overload, of course! As you can see below:
Koalas have a voracious appetite for eucalyptus leaves — not even a baby koala will distract a mother from chowing down!
The babies include little kangaroo baby “Joeys” in their mothers’ pouches.
But who are we kidding — you are probably mostly interested in visiting because of the koalas! The zoo groups the koalas at separate stations by age and gender, with groupings that include those for “boys,” the kindergarten (1-2 year-olds), and “retirement.”
According to Lone Pine, life expectancy in captivity is 12-15 years, versus 8-10 years in the wild. The zoo also once housed the Guinness Book of World Records winner for the longest living koala — Sarah, who passed away at age 23 in 2001.
You will notice that the koalas seem very sleepy and lethargic. They perk up the most at the sight of eucalyptus leaves, their diet of choice. In fact, they are actually mostly nocturnal and more awake at night.
They gobble leaves. The rest of the time, they appear almost to be in a drunken stupor. Yet somehow, they still cling to trees while sleeping. Indeed, the zoo notes that the koalas can sleep in trees for up to 19 hours a day (which sounds just like my chihuahua, although he sleeps on the ground!).
Pretty much the most action you will see these little guys take is when they are eating…
Make sure to attend a talk at the zoo as well. You may be surprised at what you learn. For example, koalas in Australia are plagued by the STD chlamydia.
While many people visit Lone Pine because of the famous koalas, the zoo also offers a showcase of many of Australia’s most notable animals. The animals on display include the kangaroo, Kookaburra, wombat, parrot, cassowary, dingo, and crocodile. The zoo boasts about 100 species of Australian native animals.
But as we all know, the star of this show is the koala! Don’t miss your chance to see so many of these amazing animals in one place.
Just a few fun facts about koalas from National Geographic:
- They weigh about 20 pounds.
- Koalas are marsupials like kangaroos — meaning that they have pouches. Baby koalas stay in their mother’s punch for about six months, and then ride on their mother’s back or belly until they are about a year old.
- Koalas live in eastern Australia, where eucalyptus trees — their food source — are most common.