The koala exhibit at Zoo Miami is full of the sharp scent of eucalyptus once more.
After more than a year without a resident, the glassed-in, branch-filled enclosure is now home to Milo, a 5-year-old male koala.
Milo is one of 30 koalas on loan from the San Diego Zoo, a hub for koala breeding. He replaced Zoo Miami’s last koala, Cobber, who died in February 2015. At 19, he was nearly double the life span that most male koalas reach. Male koalas live shorter lives than female koalas, said Ron Magill, zoo spokesman.
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“They’re always fighting with each other, crossing roads all the time looking for females, getting hit by cars,” he said.
This much younger koala gives zoo staff hope for a possible breeding program, said Rob Lara, animal science manager at Zoo Miami.
“The last pair were just past their prime,” Lara said.
Baby koalas could be a boon for the endangered species as well as the zoo, but getting a female is a yearlong process that hasn’t even begun, he said.
While he waits, Milo will spend 18 to 22 hours of his day sleeping and the rest munching on his stock of eucalyptus, the primary food for koalas. There are more than 600 types of the plant, and koalas can be picky about what they like.
Zoo Miami grows some of its stock in its grove and sources the rest from San Diego Zoo-approved sources.
“Variety is the spice of life,” Lara said. “They might have a favorite, like we like broccoli and not cauliflower.”