SLATER the northern koala is a popular fellow these days at Perth Zoo.
After he successfully mated with two females, the zoo is celebrating producing its first baby koalas in 15 years.
The zoo tried on and off over the years to breed joeys and support the national regional breeding program, but has been unsuccessful.
Like humans, putting a male and female in the same room doesn’t always mean they will hit it off.
“When our two new girls Wanda and Mia joined us from Taronga Zoo, we introduced them to Slater in this exhibit and pretty much within the first day Slater took an instant liking to them,” senior zookeeper Steve Catwell told AAP on Wednesday.
Fortunately the feelings were mutual and Slater produced a male named Tarni with Wanda, then another yet to be named male with Mia.
Tarni has already moved to Queensland but the new baby still clings to Mia.
The breeding program is crucial, with koalas listed as a threatened species – one step above endangered – by the federal government in 2012.
Habitat loss to humans is the main threat, including urban development and timber plantations.
Koalas only live in and eat eucalyptus trees and leaves, and rest for up to 20 hours a day.
They are native to eastern Australia and South Australia, but not WA.
“They are one of our most iconic animals, an ambassador species that people travel all around the world to come and see,” Mr Catwell said.
“What we’re working at at the moment is getting a genetically diverse sustainable population in zoos so we can keep them going for a time when the habitat will be better.”