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Rare white koala joey surprises workers at Queensland’s Australia Zoo and now she needs a name

Staff writer, August 23, 2017 6:45PM News Corp Australia

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Rare white koala joey at Australia Zoo. Picture: AAP/Ben Beaden media_cameraRare white koala joey at Australia Zoo. Picture: AAP/Ben Beaden

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A RARE white koala has been born at Australia Zoo in Queensland, delighting visitors and veterinarians alike.

The popular wildlife park on the Sunshine Coast has been in the midst of ‘joey season’ for the past few months, with a number of new furry arrivals finally emerging* from mothers’ pouches.

Among them was something not often seen — an extremely pale youngster that added an extra element of surprise.

Dr Rosie Booth, director of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, explained it’s not a case of albinism*, where colour is absent from all physical characteristics like skin, fur and eyes.

Rather, the female joey’s white colouration is the result of a recessive gene* likely inherited from her mum Tia, who has given birth to other pale coloured babies in the past.

“In veterinary science it’s often referred to as the ‘silvering gene’ where animals are born with white or very pale fur and, just like baby teeth, they eventually shed their baby fur and the regular adult colouration comes through,” Dr Booth said.

Koalas are known to vary in colour depending on their environment, with southern koalas being much darker and larger than those found in Queensland and New South Wales.

“In the wild animal kingdom, it’s actually quite unfortunate to have unusually light colouration as it makes animals stand out from their camouflage risking being spotted by potential predators,” Dr Booth said.

The unnamed white koala joey. Picture: AAP/Ben Beaden media_cameraThe unnamed white koala joey. Picture: AAP/Ben Beaden

So this little joey has hit the jackpot being born at Australia Zoo where every single person adores animals and gives them such great care.”

The white joey is yet to be named and Tourism Australia is calling for suggestions on its Facebook page.

The snowy faced joey will be part of Australia Zoo’s ‘Mums n Bubs’ enclosure, where visitors can watch them develop their koala skills.

G LOSSARY

emerging: coming out
albinism: disorder where someone has complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes
recessive gene: a gene that can easily be masked by dominant genes and doesn’t always show in offspring

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Activity 1. What is the silvering gene?

Why would it be dangerous for a joey born with the silvering gene in the wild?

What happens as the joey grows up?

Write a sentence that explains what camouflage is.

Extension:

To us, zebras’ stripes makes them really stand out, but they are actually very clever camouflage.
Research how a zebra’s stripes help to protect it.

Use the information you have found to crate a chart or illustrated poster explaining at least two reasons why zebras have stripes.

Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: Science, Visual Communication Design

Activity 2.
Name the little joey.
List two reasons why you chose this name.


Extension:

Write a letter or email to Australia Zoo that explains why you chose the name and why your name is the best one for the joey. ​
The purpose of your letter is to convince them to use the name that you have chosen.

Time: allow 35 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)


Speech mark challenge

There is a lot of punctuation in this article. Speech marks help us tell that someone is talking.

For this activity, tally of all the speech mark pairs in the article.

Then copy and paste the text into a word document and remove all the speech marks.
Swap seats with a partner and challenge them to replace all the speech mark pairs.

Give them a hint by telling them the number of pairs they have to replace.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP

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