The Dallas Zoo, which has long suffered from a dearth of koalas, has two of the furry marsupials on loan from the San Diego Zoo for the next thirty months.
Five-year-old Kobi and four-year-old Tekin make their public debut in the zoo’s new $750,000 Koala Walkabout exhibit on Saturday. The pair are the Dallas Zoo’s first koalas in its 124-year history. With the fuzzy, gray, Australian marsupials on loan, the Dallas Zoo joins an exclusive club: only ten zoos in the U.S. have koalas.
“Koalas are incredibly charismatic,” Gregg Hudson, executive director of the Dallas Zoo and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, said in a release. They may be charismatic, but they’re also “high maintenance and expensive,” Ruthie Burst wrote in the SMU Daily Campus. These issues, however, are mitigated by their cuteness.
The Dallas Morning News‘ David Flick declared that koalas are “among the cutest critters in all creation—when they’re awake,” he wrote. “The problem is that the marsupials, which are among the most expensive animals in the world to feed and display, sleep 19 hours a day.”
The koalas, which eat only eucalyptus, will cost the zoo $65,000 each year to feed. They have a slow metabolism and a special bacteria in their gut that work in tandem to allow them to digest the leaves, which are toxic to other animals. But their diet leaves them drowsy—eucalyptus has a sedative effect.
Watch a video of Kobi and Tekin: