HOW many koalas can you see in this picture?
It's not a trick question, proud mum Caramello (pictured above)
has given birth to the first baby koala born at Rockhampton Zoo
for several years.
Born just one month ago, her baby has fur now and has been spotted
poking its head out of the pouch once so far.
Parks and Recreation Director Tom Wyatt said yesterday the birth
was exciting because it held implications for the
repopulation of the Central Queensland koala.
"Our program is fine tuning the technique of breeding these
animals in captivity," Mr Wyatt said.
He said the long term goal was a breed and release program to
repopulate the Berserkers, in which the local koala population
had dropped dramatically.
The drought had impacted severely on the region, depleting the
nutrients found in eucalyptus leaves.
Mr Wyatt said the local koala population had been significantly
affected by drought.
"We have eucalyptus forest being developed and are researching
with CQU... to see if we can increase the nutrients in the leaf,"
Mr Wyatt said "at this stage", the breeding program
was all natural.
"We think we can create conditions similar to what they
are in the wild," he said.
"It'll be an ongoing project for many years because we're
still fine tuning what keeps them really happy here in captivity.
"I've got a gut feeling; if we can improve the nutrient
value of the leaf maybe the breeding will become easier."
Mr Wyatt said the as yet unnamed baby marsupial mammal would
remain in the pouch for another three months before it could fend
The new addition takes koala numbers at the zoo to five.