KERA's BJ Austin ventured to the Dallas Zoo's newest exhibit to meet Kobi and Tekin, the only zoo-kept koalas in Texas.
“They’re so furry and so cute.”
They’re Kobi and Tekin, the main attractions of the new Koala Walkabout at the Dallas Zoo.
Hudson: We’re one of ten zoos in the nation that will have koalas on exhibit. We’re the only zoo in Texas right now to have koalas.
And Dallas Zoo Director Gregg Hudson predicts the koalas, on loan from the San Diego Zoo for the next 2 ½ years, will be big hits.
Hudson: We just saw a recent survey that ranked them as the second most popular zoo animal, right behind giant pandas.
The new Koala Walkabout is a $750,000 exhibit. It features kangaroo, wallaby, emu, brightly colored lorikeets that zoo-goers can feed and interact with, and Bondi and Adelaide, the brother and sister kookaburras. They’re from the same Australian habitat as koalas.
Jennifer Roesler, Senior Mammal Keeper at the San Diego Zoo is in Dallas for two weeks to help Kobi and Tekin make the move to their new, glass-enclosed, climate-controlled exhibit.
Roesler: Kobi likes to come down on the ground and venture around his enclosure. He actually even goes into the kitchen area. So, he wants to investigate every corner. Tekin on the other hand is a little more stand-offish, more of a typical koala. But he’s definitely got the photographic personality. I think he knows he’s beautiful.
Tekin in the Aboriginal language means “escape”. Kobi means “medicine man.” Their diet is exclusively eucalyptus. Fresh leaves will be shipped in twice a week from Phoenix at a cost of 65-thousand dollars a year. And they sleep about 18 hours a day.
The Zoo’s deputy director Dr. Lynn Kramer says there are certain times zoo-goers are more likely to catch them up and active.
Kramer: About a half hour after we open about 9:30 in the morning, and then at 1:30 everyday, we’re going to weigh them, then again at the end of the day around four o’clock.
The Dallas Zoological Society, which runs the Zoo, has a goal of adding a new feature every year, spending up to a million dollars in privately-raised funds. Zoo attendance last year was 790,000, an all-time record. And officials predict the koalas will keep them on pace to beat that this year.