Monday, February 28, 2011

Rare twin koalas born on Phillip Island

Twin koalas are a rare event. At Phillip Island's Koala Conservation Centre, people looking up into the branches of a tall eucalypt thought they were seeing double!

The two heads peeping out of the mother koala's pouch were christened Venus and Mars, because of the position of the planets at that time. All went well while the joeys were small, but when they had to share time in and out of the pouch things came to a head.

One night, during a storm, Mars fell 10 m to the ground. Another female koala dashed to the rescue and climbed back up the tree with Mars on her back. In the morning the Ranger on duty noticed the mistake and gave Mars back to his real mother, who appeared not to have noticed the disappearance of one of her twins.

A couple of weeks later, Mars was found on the ground again; wet, cold and alone. He must have fallen during the night and spent several miserable hours without the warmth and security of his mother's pouch. The Ranger decided that Mars needed to be a hand-reared at a licensed Wildlife Shelter until weaning, which would take approximately 3 months. The plan was to reunite him with his twin, when he was independent.

This, unfortunately didn't happen. Mars became ill and died, and in the process almost broke the heart of his carer. Only the size of a jelly bean when born, koalas take 18 months to become fully independent. Joey koalas are especially adorable and love to cuddle their own teddy.

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