Koala Exhibit Header: G'DAY Y'ALL Exhibit Now Open! Season Sponsor Ford (Ford Logo)



Get ready for an exhilarating adventure at your Louisville Zoo as we welcome an iconic species from “down under” to the Bluegrass state! Come visit with male koalas Dharuk and Telowie, who have journeyed all the way from San Diego to join our Zoo family! It’s been a while since we last had the pleasure of hosting koalas, with our last sighting dating back to 2000. But fear not, because we’re thrilled to announce that these adorable marsupials are here to stay!

And they are ready to greet guests and steal hearts with their irresistible charm.

Bookmark our webpage or follow us on Facebook @louisvillezoo to ensure you’re among the first to say “G’day Y’all” to these adorable koalas!


Koalas are part of the Zoo’s Summer Season presented by Ford!

logo - Presented by Ford, in oval with blue trim, white trim, blue color, with Ford in all white letters


Follow us on social media

Read the media release


Photos courtesy of the San Diego Zoo

Koala DharukDharuk

Name means language of Blue Mountains area. Birthday 4/4/22. Average wt 7.10kg. Parents are Tobbery and Coolaroo. Both his parents are good eaters and larger Koalas and this was passed on to Dharuk. He is still growing and could be a hefty male when full grown. He really enjoys his eucalyptus and comes down low readily. He has a calm demeanor and does well with handling. Dharuk has a dark nose with pink in the nostrils.

Photo of Koala TelowieTelowie

His name means Old Man Saltbush by the Waterhole. Birthday 4/13/20. Average wt 8.10kg. Parents are Logan and Tharah. Both his parents had a very calm demeanor and that passed onto him. He is an active Koala and does enjoy jumping around often. He has large fluffy ears and pink on his nose and in his nostrils. Telowie is a keeper favorite and has a variety of fun nicknames.

Why are Dharuk and Telowie not together?
Koalas are naturally territorial and solitary animals, except during mating seasons. Dharuk and Telowie each have their own “bachelor pad,” meaning separate habitats with individual off-exhibit areas.

Will the koalas be part of a breeding program in the future?
Male koalas, Dharuk and Telowie, are part of the Species Survival Plan for the species in North America. Their transfer is part of that program.  We hope to host a breeding pair in the future.

Do Dharuk and Telowie have chlamydia?
All koalas in the U.S. are chlamydia-free, as they have been carefully raised and propagated in managed care..

Where did the koalas come from?
Dharuk and Telowie joined us from the San Diego Zoo in California.

How long are the koalas at the Louisville Zoo?
Koalas have joined as a permanent addition to the Zoo’s hosted species.  Dharuk and Telowie may be transferred in the future as part of the koala species management plan.  We hope to welcome a breeding pair of koalas in the future.

What is the best time to see the koalas?
Koalas can sleep up to 20 hours a day. If you’re hoping to see Dharuk or Telowie be more active, your best chances are during the early mornings or late afternoons.

Why are the koalas indoors?
The specially designed indoor habitat is climate-controlled and allows the koalas access to an outdoor, off-exhibit space.

Why didn’t Dharuk and Telowie have to complete a 30-day quarantine?
The newly renovated indoor habitat allows the koalas to safely complete their quarantine while on exhibit, enabling a seamless transition.

Will there be a Backstage Pass Experience with Dharuk or Telowie?
There is not a Backstage Pass Experience planned for the koalas at this time.


Trunkline Cover - Summer 2024 featuring Koalas Feature Article: Getting Some Koala-ty Time

Originally published in the Summer 2024 issue of Trunkline

This summer, your Louisville Zoo is taking you to the “Land Down Under” with the introduction of two new animal residents! Guests can look forward to meeting male koalas, Dharuk and Telowie, in the Australia Zone starting this June. The duo arrives in Louisville from San Diego Zoo in California. Visitors to the Zoo’s Australia Zone will come nose-to-nose with this beloved symbol of Australia in the newly renovated, former red panda habitat.

Despite their large, rounded ears and resemblance to bears, koalas are actually marsupials, like kangaroos and wombats. Koalas give birth to live, undeveloped young that crawl into a pouch on the female’s abdomen, where they continue growing.

Assistant Director Steve Taylor, with the Louisville Zoo since 1975, has seen many species come and go. He expressed his excitement in welcoming koalas to Louisville once more. “They’re always a guest draw,” he said. The unique animals were temporarily featured at the Zoo during the 1980s, then again in the early 2000s. “They’re a unique animal that captures people’s hearts. And it’s a fascinating species.”

Taylor also said that before the koalas’ arrival, many preparations were undertaken in San Diego and here in Louisville. Assistant Mammal Curator Jessica Cunningham traveled to San Diego two weeks before the pair departed to complete additional training and prepare for their transfer and care. Meanwhile, the Louisville Zoo team was renovating the former jaguar exhibit into a phenomenal space for red panda, Sundara, while simultaneously transforming Sundara’s former home into a perfect space for two male koalas — complete with separate living areas.

Cunningham shared that “except during mating seasons, koalas are solitary figures. Dharuk and Telowie are both adult males and, due to their territorial nature, each has their own “bachelor pad,” meaning separated habitats with individual off-exhibit areas. That lets them roam freely in their own area without the added stress of encountering another male or crossing into his heavily marked territory.”

A staff member from San Diego Zoo also flew to Louisville to view and approve the koalas’ accommodations before the duo arrived. Once the exhibit spaces were approved, Cunningham and another keeper from the San Diego Zoo escorted Dharuk and Telowie by plane to their new home.

Cunningham said that visitors to the new exhibit should expect to see sleepy koalas nine times out of ten. “Koalas eat a very low-quality diet. Eucalyptus is not very nutritious, but that’s all koalas eat. It takes their bodies a long time just to be able to process that food for a little bit of energy!”

The word “koala” is believed to originate from the Dharug language, spoken by Aboriginal people in Australia. “Koala” means “no drink,” which may be a reference to the marsupial’s low water intake. These animals stay hydrated through the water content in the eucalyptus leaves that form the bulk of their diet.

The new koalas will eat eucalyptus grown on one of only two eucalyptus farms in the United States, all of which specialize in supplying zoos. The San Diego Zoo grows their own eucalyptus and can overnight eucalyptus to Louisville if one of the farm partners is not able to fill an order quickly.

Along with their restricted diet, human development and subsequent habitat destruction are the greatest threats koalas face in the wild. Motor vehicles are an increasing source of danger for koalas, which wander into roadways in search of food or shelter and are struck by cars. Bushfires, too, have had a devastating effect on koala numbers in the wild. In 2020, the Louisville Zoo donated a portion of its conservation fund to Zoos Victoria’s Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund in response to the widespread bushfires that devastated Australian wildlife.

Dharuk and Telowie join the Louisville Zoo family with no end-date as part of an agreement with the Australian government. Come learn about our iconic new friends and how you can help them thrive. You may even want to give them a hearty “G’Day Y’all!” as you pass by.