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Future species ambassador Tallow named Australia’s cutest koala joey

Jeremy Pierce, August 5, 2019 7:00PM The Courier-Mail

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An eight-month-old koala joey called Tallow has been crowned the country’s cutest following a nationwide search by Tourism Australia. Picture: Tourism Australia media_cameraAn eight-month-old koala joey called Tallow has been crowned the country’s cutest following a nationwide search by Tourism Australia. Picture: Tourism Australia


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Tallow is officially Australia’s cutest koala joey.

She won the national competition after a thorough search for cuteness by Tourism Australia, contributions from photographers and wildlife parks and a public vote attracting more than one million entries.

One of Tallow’s carers called it “a pretty big deal in the koala world”.

As well as being super, super cute, Tallow’s new-found fame makes her an important ambassador* for the many koala conservation programs across the country.

The little female joey is from Paradise Country, a farm and animal park on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Paradise Country Curator of Wildlife Deane Jones said Tallow’s win was wonderful recognition* for the successful koala breeding program at the park.

“While we think all of our koalas are cute, Tallow now has the title of officially being Australia’s cutest koala joey, which is a pretty big deal in the koala world,” he said.

“Tallow has a special place in the hearts of everyone at Paradise Country as she was the 50th joey born and raised at the park. She is such an adorable joey and her personality is really starting to develop as she spends more and more time out of mum’s pouch.

“In addition to being named ‘Australia’s cutest joey’, Tallow also has the important task of playing a vital* role in raising awareness and conservation efforts for her wild counterparts* through the Save a Mate Conservation Program at Paradise Country.”

media_cameraMore than 70 joeys were entered into the competition for Australia’s cutest joey. They were all very cute, so the judges had a difficult job to pick a list of finalists for the public to vote on. Picture: Tourism Australia

Tourism Australia’s global social media manager Nick Henderson said the competition had been an overwhelming success.

“Not only does it give our followers an opportunity to enjoy their cuteness, but importantly it allows us to showcase* local tourism operators from all around Australia and provide them with exposure to our millions of followers,” he said.

VIDEO: Joey Ellie had a first-birthday party with her keepers at her home at Symbio Wildlife Park near Sydney, NSW

Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus

Koalas are a herbivorous* mammal marsupial, which means they are not a bear.

They are the only surviving species of their family. There are fossils of 11 other species that are now extinct.

They live for up to 18 years and can weigh up to 15kg.

They eat up to 1kg of eucalyptus leaves a day and have a special digestive organ called a caecum that helps break down and detoxify* the natural but strong chemicals in the leaves.

Once a joey is born, it lives in its mother’s pouch for six months. For the next six months the joey rides on its mother’s back and only uses the pouch to sleep and feed.

QLD_CP_NEWS_KOALA_24JUL19 media_cameraKate Barnard with nine-month-old Monte Carlo and his mum Vovo at Rainforestation Nature Park in Far North Qld. Picture: Anna Rogers

Koalas are only found in the wild in southeastern and eastern Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

Koala habitat is being cleared in Australia. They are also affected by a serious disease called chlamydia that can cause them to lose their sight, get painful infections or make it difficult to have joeys.

Supplied Editorial Werribee Open Range Zoo koalas media_cameraAdult koalas eat about 1kg of eucalyptus leaves a day. This koala lives at Werribee Open Range Zoo, Victoria.


  • ambassador: representative
  • recognition: appreciation
  • vital: essential; very important
  • counterparts: a person or animal that has the same job somewhere else
  • showcase: show off, feature
  • herbivorous: eats only plants
  • detoxify: remove toxins or poisons


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  1. Who decided Tallow was Australia’s cutest koala joey?
  2. How many joeys have been born and raised at Tallow’s home?
  3. Do koalas eat insects? What do they eat and how much?
  4. What happens to the strong chemicals in the leaves they eat?
  5. For how long do joey koalas usually use their mother’s pouch?


1. Vote for Me
Tallow won the title of “cutest koala” based on her appearance, but what if other factors were taken into account too? What if each of the koalas had to campaign for the title the way a politician would campaign for a place in government?

Write a campaign speech for Tallow to convince voters of her suitability for this role:

  • use an exposition format 
  • cuteness can be one of the arguments used, but come up with two more based on details in the article
  • include your most persuasive language choices

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity 
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Your campaign speech must have been convincing. Tallow won! Now write Tallow’s acceptance speech.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity 
Curriculum Links: English

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalist has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What competition for the cutest baby animal would you like to judge?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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