Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Koala joey dies aged 301 days: zoo

Staff writer, with CNA

A koala joey, which died on Sunday aged 301 days, sits on a blanket in an undated photograph provided by the Taipei Zoo.

Photo: CNA, courtesy of Taipei Zoo

A baby koala has died despite two months of efforts to save it, the Taipei Zoo said yesterday.

The 301-day-old female born to koala Coral died late on Sunday, possibly due to excess fluid in her lungs caused by a blood disease, the zoo said in a press statement.

Her death leaves the zoo with 13 koalas.

The unnamed joey was the second baby born to three-year-old Coral.

Her first is now two years old, the zoo said.

Veterinarians started to treat the newborn koala on Dec. 18 after she fell while being nursed, an indication that the joey’s grip was not strong enough.

Blood tests showed that the joey was anemic, meaning she was incapable of producing a sufficient number of red blood cells.

After falling twice more over the following weeks, the joey was treated in a quarantine unit accompanied by her mother.

Her condition fluctuated over the following weeks, but the joey showed signs of improvement earlier this month.

By Feb. 8, her weight had increased to 757g, still far less than the 1.1kg considered healthy, according to the zoo.

Her health deteriorated rapidly over the past week, with zookeepers seeing a decrease in appetite and weight loss.

Handlers began feeding the joey formula to supplement her mother’s milk, the first time that artificial nursing has been used for koalas at the Taipei Zoo.

Despite the intensive efforts, the joey fell again while feeding on Sunday and died later the same day.

Zoo officials said they have consulted with experts in Australia and believe the cub’s symptoms are consistent with a retrovirus infection.

The zoo has dissected the joey and is testing samples in an effort to identify the cause of her illness.

Despite losing her joey, Coral was doing well yesterday, the zoo said, adding that it will keep a close eye on the health of its other animals following the koala’s death.

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