5 min read

Tiniest Koala Headed For A Future Of Tourist Selfies

<p> Symbio Wildlife Park </p>

When caretakers decided to use a surrogate mother for a baby koala named Harry, they knew they'd be trying something rarely done before.

Harry's mother died of cancer before the young marsupial ever ventured outside her pouch, and at only 250 grams, he wasn't yet ready to live on his own.

Kelly the koala's pouch was the best option for young surrogate Harry, but there was already somebody living inside.

Meet Kelly's daughter, Imogen.

Symbio Wildlife Park

She weighed 500 grams at the time Harry's mother passed away and had already emerged from her mother's pouch on several occasions.

Imogen had also already received pap - an important nutrient for baby koalas that helps them develop the ability to digest eucalyptus rather than their mother's milk - something young Harry had not yet received from his own mother's pouch.

Caretakers from the Symbio Wildlife Park and Zoo made the decision to hand-rear young Imogen in order to make room for and give life to an even younger Harry.

Symbio Wildlife Park
Symbio Wildlife Park

Once she had Harry in her pouch, Kelly immediately began to nurture him as if he were her own child. And after a few weeks, Harry was even able to venture out of Kelly's pouch on his own.

Now, the two cubs appear to be stable and on their way to a healthy adulthood. And they appear to be dangerously cute, even though they'd look even cuter in the wild.

Symbio Wildlife Park

"Harry and Imogen were born to captive parents and just like our other animals are all part of [our] captive animal breeding program to ensure these guys are around for long time to come," a representative of Symbio Wildlife Park told The Dodo in an email when asked whether the zoo had plans to release Harry and Imogen.

The representative noted that zoo visitors will be able to take "happy snaps" or selfies, as Americans call them, when the koalas are old enough. "In [New South Wales, Australia] where we are, there are restrictions in regards to holding [koalas], however the public can cuddle up next to them," the representative said.

"[The koalas] play a vital role in educating the public and helping build that awareness to ensure they are more invested in protecting our environment for the future," he said.

Hopefully the zoo can find a better way to educate the public than using the koalas as props in selfies and photo ops.

Watch the full video of Imogen below.