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"Zaki" the Last Victorian Koala in North America Passes Away


Zookeepers will miss the long-time resident.

"Zaki" the Last Victorian Koala in North America Passes Away

Zaki the koala. Photo courtesy of ABQ BioPark.

January 9, 2013

Yesterday, the ABQ BioPark Zoo’s animal care team humanely euthanized our 18-year-old male koala due to age-related issues. The koala, named Zaki, was one of the oldest koalas in captivity and the only Victorian koala in North America.

Keepers were carefully monitoring the elderly koala. In recent weeks, he lost a significant amount of weight and became very weak. Veterinarians took X-rays and did a close health evaluation last week, but they were not able to find a conclusive cause for his decline. With worries about him falling from his perch and concern for his compromised quality of life, the animal care team made the difficult decision to euthanize him.

“I feel very lucky to have gotten to work with Zaki,” said Stephanie Kain, Senior Zookeeper. “Every koala I’ve worked with has a different personality, and Zaki was very easy-going and dignified. In his prime, he was a big, strong koala, but never aggressive. During this last year, he interacted with us more and really enjoyed getting his ears scratched.”

Keepers know that Zaki was born sometime in January of 1995 but cannot name the exact day because koalas are marsupials. When a bean-sized joey is born, it immediately crawls into the mother’s pouch to drink milk and grow for about six months before starting to emerge. This makes an exact determination of day of birth difficult.  Zaki came to the ABQ BioPark in 1997 as an independent young koala and has delighted millions of visitors from his perch in Australia’s Koala Creek. Koalas can live up to 20 years in captivity.

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are a threatened species native to eastern Australia. Southern Victorian koalas, like Zaki, tend to be larger and have longer, thicker fur.  Zaki is survived by Luke, a male Queensland koala that recently arrived at the Zoo. For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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