Koalafornia, the Australian Outback Exhibit at the San Diego Zoo is now open! We were invited to a sneak preview of the exhibit prior to it opening to the public, and loved it!
THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK EXHIBIT
Being born and raised in San Diego, I’ve spent a lot of time at the Zoo. As far back as I can remember, the koalas always had the same home, until now! The San Diego Zoo has an incredible new home for the koalas and their marsupial friends inside the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback exhibit, known to many locals as “Koalafornia“.
The Zoo’s Australian Outback is a 3 acre exhibit. It not only houses the 20+ Queensland koalas of the Zoo, but also wallabies, wombats, echidna, and a variety of birds native to Australia. One such bird is the kookaburra, such as Matilda, shown in the picture above at the bottom left hand corner.
Aside from the animals, the new exhibit also has beautiful 8′ – 15′ aboriginal-style totem poles at the entry. Each pole symbolizes a different animal. It also has beautiful plants native to Australia. A neat Queenslander style building, which is much like the architectural style of homes in Queensland, Australia, sits at the hub of the exhibit. Here is where an all-new educational area for youth is found. Kids at camp at the Zoo will have the opportunity to use this beautiful new facility. There is also a neat climbing structure for kids near the koalas. The native plants, animals, and Queenslander building make the exhibit a true Outback experience for guests.
As you probably know, the San Diego Zoo is big on conservation. The Zoo is the largest breeding colony of Queenslans koalas outside of Australia. The Australian Outback exhibit focuses on koala conservation and includes info about such for guests to learn more on their visit.
Within the Australian Outback you’ll find windows to peek through to see where the eucalyptus leaves are kept in the koala food prep kitchen. It’s pretty amazing to see the amount of eucalyptus leaves that these little guys eat in a day (1 – 1.5 lbs per koala).
I had no idea until our visit to the exhibit that koalas only eat eucalyptus leaves, and that they are are particular about the ones they consume. There are over 700 different types of eucalyptus, but koalas prefer only 40 of such varieties. One day they may want one type of eucalyptus leaves, the next they may only want a different type. The Zoo offers them plenty of different varieties, which they can pick and choose from each day. Who knew they were so finicky?!?
In the wild, many koalas lose their lives to predators as they move around the eucalyptus forests to feed. These animals live in trees, where it is safer for them. Koalas are quiet animals that tend to sleep a lot. They are normally found seated in the branches of eucalyptus trees where they feel safe and sound. It’s amazing how much they camouflage in the branches!
While visiting the Australian Outback exhibit we learned that the male and female koalas are separated, and that male koalas don’t mix well together, so they each have their own area. The female koalas intermingle, and share common areas. One of the female koalas had her baby with her in the exhibit, and it was absolutely heartwarming watching the baby koala climb onto the mommy’s back and cuddle with her. If you look at the the picture below you may be able to see the baby and mom on a branch near the black pole.
Here are the kids with Zookeeper Rick inside the new education area for kids inside the Australian Outback exhibit. Rick graciously gave us the special tour. He’s the San Diego Zoo’s Ambassador, and pretty much our hero! We were SO excited to meet him in person!
The Australian Outback exhibit is an incredible addition to the San Diego Zoo. Click HERE for more info about “Koalafornia“, including a link to a live Koala Cam! Perhaps we’ll see you there!
As stated above, we were invited to preview the Australian Outback exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. We received complimentary entry and lunch. We believe many of our readers are interested in knowing more about the exhibit, and our opinions are own. Thank you, San Diego Zoo, for inviting us for the day, and for the hospitality. *This site contains affiliate links*