VIDEO: Three’s company for this busy koala mum

By AG Staff Writer March 15, 2016
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Meet Jill, the busiest koala mum at the Australian Reptile Park and resident wet-nurse for three joeys, only one of which is hers!

SHE MAY LOOK like the busy mother of triplets, but Jill the koala is in fact a wet-nurse for two ‘adopted’ joeys in her enclosure at the Australian Reptile Park.

“The two big joeys’ mums have stopped producing milk and now all three are feeding on the only mum that still has milk,” explains Tim Faulkner, AG’s 2015 Conservationist of the Year and General Manager at the Park, which is located on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

“In our enclosure there are three mums. When the joeys wean, the older ones simply jump ship over to a female still lactating. It is normal and everyone is happy – except perhaps the wet-nurse!”

The joeys are named Miri, Lowanna and Pipa. Pipa is the little one, while Miri and Lowanna belong to two other mums in the enclosure. Both are “well beyond” the weaning stage, says Tim, who adds that this arrangement is unique to koalas living in captivity.

“In the wild a joey, once weaned from its mum, couldn’t simply ‘jump on another’. Nor would a female accepts another female’s joey,” he explains.