The koalas at Healesville Sanctuary are showing a healthy approach to weight management, thanks to a new tool their keepers are using.
The new device gives koalas the choice to weigh themselves, easing stress during routine health checks.
The new approach coincided with Save the Koala Month this September, which is dedicated to inspiring and raising awareness about koala conservation.
“In the past when we’ve wanted to weigh the koalas, we’ve had to physically pick them up and pop them onto the scales,“ koala keeper Craig McQueen said.
“We’re now using a custom-designed tool which has a scale placed on top of a table, and a perch set up on top of the scales.
“It’s lightweight, so keepers can shift it to where the koalas are sitting and encourage them to voluntarily pop over onto the perch for weighing.”
Mr McQueen said the method had been working well for the sanctuary’s eight koalas.
“Nearly all of the koalas at Healesville Sanctuary have now engaged with the new tool,” he said.
“They’ve all been really comfortable sitting on the perch versus being placed onto a scale by a keeper.
“Sometimes keepers will use a little bit of the koala’s favourite food to help entice them over, but other times they will come over because the perch has scents of other koalas and they are curious.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies koalas as vulnerable in the wild, with numbers decreasing from deforestation and drought.