Koala mother holding baby

Koala

I'm not a bear!

Type

giant panda

Mammals

Area

Australia

Australia

Endangered Status

Threatened

facts

size
2 to 3 feet
length
A soccer ball is 9 inches high.
koala compared to the size of a soccer ball
food
plants
plant eater

Leaves, especially eucalyptus, make up the koala's diet.

habitat
forests
forest habitat

description

Koala joey holding on piggy-back style to mother

Joey, not Teddy

Koalas are often called bears because they look a little like teddy bears, but they are actually marsupials. Like other marsupials, the female has a pouch where she carries her baby, called a joey, for several months after birth. When a joey is strong enough to cling to its mother's back, it leaves the pouch but still sticks its head in to nurse.

Male koala bellowing
Koala eating eucalyptus leaves

Leaves for lunch

Koalas are known as picky eaters. There are hundreds of different types of eucalyptus, but koalas only eat a few dozen kinds. And koalas won’t eat every leaf off of each branch. In fact, at the San Diego Zoo, we offer each koala 25 pounds of fresh eucalyptus each day, and each only eats about 1.5 pounds of it. We give them a lot to choose from because they know what's best!

A San Diego Zoo Global Conservancy scientist holds a baby joey before it is weighed and returned to its mother.

Help for koalas

While koalas currently aren’t listed as an endangered species, 80 percent of koala habitat has been lost to human homes and businesses, drought, and fires. That makes life hard for an animal that needs eucalyptus forests to survive, like koalas do. Koalas also are at risk when close to human populations, where they could be killed by cars or dogs. Many people are working together to protect koala habitat and help these cuddly looking creatures survive.