AUG 23, 2017 6:12 AM PDT

Australian Zoo Sees the Birth of a Rare White Koala

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Bindi Irwin’s Australia Zoo was blessed with the birth of a rare white female koala joey, but it currently doesn’t have a name, and the Zoo wants your help in deciding what to call it.

The female white koala joey hitches a ride on her mother's back.

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Worthy of note, the animal isn’t albino by any stretch. Instead, it simply has all-white fur that came from a recessive gene passed on by the creature’s mother, named Tia.

"In veterinary science it's often referred to as the 'silvering gene' where animals are born with white or very pale fur and, just like baby teeth, they eventually shed their baby fur and the regular adult coloration comes through," said the zoo's wildlife hospital director, Rosie Booth, in a statement.

“In the wild animal kingdom, it’s actually quite unfortunate to have unusually light coloration as it makes animals stand out from their camouflage.”

Related: Here's how climate change impacts koala bears

Tia has given birth to lighter-colored koalas in the past, but this is the first time she gave birth to a genuinely all-white koala. Chances are, the animal will probably remain white for the rest of its life.

It’s an infrequent event, not just in captivity, but also in the wild. As a result, many animal experts now explain how they haven’t laid eyes on a wild white koala for decades.

The birth occurred earlier this year, but newborn koalas don’t have any fur immediately after birth; as a result, the rare genetic condition wasn’t readily apparent. The zoo announced the all-white koala joey on Tuesday.

Staff from the zoo explain that white koala joeys born in the wilderness are less likely to survive, given that their bright white color makes them easily-predated in their natural habitat.

Fortunately, because this koala joey was born in captivity, it should live a long and fulfilling life. It will stay under the staff’s care, where it’ll eat quality food and remain shielded from wild predators.

Related: Find out why Bowie the koala became famous

Anyone with name suggestions is encouraged to leave a comment on this following Facebook page.


About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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