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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet, 2011   Tags: fact sheets, koala, koalas, mammals, san diego zoo, sdzg  

Last Updated: Aug 11, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet, 2011

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Describer: (Goldfuss, 1817)

Order: Diprotodontia

Family: Phascolarctidae

Genus: Phascolarctos

Species: P. cinereus

Subspecies: P. c. adustus, P. c. cinereus,
P. c. victor; probably not valid.

Body Weight:
M - average of 11 kg (24 lbs)
F - average 8 kg (17.6 lbs)

Body Length: 60-85 cm (23.6 - 33.5 in)

Tail Length: Vestigial

Pelage: Dense and wooly; top gray,
undersides white;white dappling on rump.

Other: Teddy bear-like in shape; black
leathery nose; rear opening pouch;
first two fingers opposable to other three
(zygodactyly); first toe opposable to other
four; each digit has strongly curved claw.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Eastern and southeastern
Australia from Queensland to South Australia

Habitat: Eucalyptus forests

IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)

CITES Appendix: not listed

Population in Wild:  Estimates vary;
perhaps as few as 43,000 to 80,000

ISIS captive population

Locomotion: Arboreal, but moves
from tree to tree on the ground on
all fours with side-to-side gait; can swim

Activity Cycle: Spends up to 20
hours/day sleeping and resting;
active throughout 24 hour cycle.

Social Groups: Non-social except for
mother and joey; joey remains with
female until birth of a another joey;
even though described as rather solitary,
koalas live within a complex network of
other koalas

Diet: Mostly Eucalyptus leaves

Threats: Habitat destruction, climate
change, predation by dogs and dingoes,
being hit by cars, Chlamydia in some populations

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males rarely breed if younger than 4 years.
Females around 2-3 years are sexually mature

Gestation: 35 days

Litter Size: Usually 1, rarely 2

Birth weight: 0.5 g (0.018 oz)

Age at Weaning: ~ 12 months

Longevity: 14+ years under optimal
conditions, but can be much less
if near human habitation.

Feature Facts: Important in Aboriginal
mythology; First recorded by a European
in 1798 and thought to be related to bears;
Koala fingerprints, like those of humans,
are unique for each individual; Eucalyptus
leaves are mainstay of diet

Society Press: First koala pair came
to San Diego Zoo in 1925. Most
successful breeding of any zoo outside
of Australia. Eucalyptus trees are grown on
zoo grounds. In 2011 San Diego Zoo Global
sent researchers to St. Bee's Island, Australia
to gather data on a healthy population of koalas
in an ongoing study of koala hip and shoulder
joint abnormalities.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2011 San Diego Zoo Global.

How to cite: Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet, 2011. c2011. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 06)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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