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World’s first blue-eyed koala born at Dreamworld

World’s first blue-eyed koala born at Dreamworld



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Dreamworld's Frank the blue eyed superstar grabs the camera


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January 17th, 2008
Media release


World’s first blue-eyed koala born at Dreamworld

He may have been christened “Logan”, but as soon as Dreamworld’s newest koala emerged from his mum’s pouch and took a first glimpse of the world late last year, he was dubbed “Frankie” for his extraordinary blue eyes.

“He’s a little puff of fur with intense blue eyes,” said Dreamworld’s Life Sciences Supervisor, Michelle Barnes. "I have worked with koalas for 14 years and have never seen a blue eyed one before.”

Australian Koala Foundation’s (AKF) CEO, Deborah Tabart was also at a loss to explain the unusual eye colouring. “In the 20 year history of the AKF, this is the first we have heard of a blue-eyed koala in captivity. It certainly appears to be a once in a lifetime event.”

Ms Barnes said that medically speaking there is nothing wrong with Frankie apart from reduced pigmentation. His mother was also tested and has the same reduced pigmentation, although her eyes are brown.

“We don’t really know if the eye colour is a result of genetics or a random event.

“If it is genetic, then it is highly unlikely to recur given that Frank, like all the other koalas, will be bred with the appropriate mate to maintain the diversity and the health of our koala stock.”

Frank won't be treated any differently to any of the 57 koalas at Dreawmorld’s Australian Wildlife Experience, despite requests for photographs with "ol blue eyes".

“Frankie is part of Dreamworld’s koala collection and whether he has blue or pink eyes he will be treated and managed like the rest of the koala family. He will make routine cuddles with the public for 30 minutes, four days a week.”

“We are delighted that he’s a little unusual, but he will only be used as a poster boy to help draw attention to the plight of this beautiful and iconic animal.”

Ms Barnes added that Frank is a typical mumma’s boy who sleeps 18 hours a day.

“He is still drinking from mum's pouch and is at a semi independent stage where he’s testing new foods. His favourite food these days is the leaf of the blue gum.”


Why was Logan’s eye colouring only recently noticed?

When born, Koalas are around 12-15mm long. At six months of age and around 12 cm, they begin to emerge from their mother’s pouch and open their eyes.

Like human babies, many koalas have a blue tinge to their eyes, which quickly recedes. Frank’s colouring was stronger and he was taken to a veterinary eye specialist for appropriate testing in December.

Said Ms Barnes, “His vision is perfect and that and his health is what is most important to us.”


About the Koala

- Koalas are native to Australia and found in the wild in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
- The Koalas’ eyes are relatively small in relation to the size of their other sensory features, such as their ears and nose, and their eyesight is not particularly highly developed.
- Koala’s rely on a highly developed hearing and sense of smell to differentiate between types of eucalyptus leaves and to detect the scent warnings put on trees by other koalas.


About Koala Handling Regulations

- The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) has developed a code of practice in conjunction with the QLD Zoological industry to regulate handling of koalas for photographic opportunities to a maximum 30 minutes a day and 180 minutes per week.


Conservation

- Please review AKF’s website for what you can do to help koala’s in the wild. www.savethekoala.com
- Dreamworld is proud to be a gold sponsor of the AKF.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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