Two-year-old Jagger, a specially bred koala, could help save the future ofendangered koala colonies along Australia’s east coast.
Jagger, the first koala bred in the Living Koala Genome Bank pilot project, isfully vaccinated against chlamydia and is disease-free, and it is hoped hisdiverse genetics will help protect koalas against the risks of inbreeding.
Dr Stephen Johnston, Associate Professor from the University of Queensland’sSchool of Agriculture and Food Sciences, said Jagger, who was recentlyreleased into a colony at Elanora Conservation Park on the Gold Coast, willhelp safeguard future generations of local koalas against inbreeding anddisease.
“He’s just one member of our recently completed pilot project, called theLiving Koala Genome Bank, where we propagate koalas with high genetic merit tobe released into the wild, improving genetic variation.
“We’ve used proven breeding technologies in combination with an in-depthanalyses of koala genetics and disease screening to help manage and conservekoala populations.”
Johnston said this is achieved by either incorporating valuable genetics fromthreatened wild koala populations into a captive population, or by providingcaptive breeding facilities, for the genetic exchange of wild koalas.
Michele Barnes and Prof Steve Johnston
The project is a collaboration between UQ, Queensland University of Technologyand the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, and was funded by the AdvanceQueensland Innovation Partnership Grant.
“Excitingly, we have been able to demonstrate that zoos, in combination withexpertise from universities, can significantly boost conservation outcomes.
“While it’s still absolutely critical to acquire and maintain good qualitykoala habitat, the approach we’ve taken is a very practical “hands on” stepforward for koala conservation management.”
Johnston hopes that their concept can be applied to other wildlife parks inQld and northern NSW to safeguard the future of koalas, and they’re currentlyin consultation with the government to do so.
Michele Barnes, Head of Life Sciences at Dreamworld, said the program comes ata critical time for koala populations.
“With most east coast koalas now listed as endangered, so much more needs tobe done in this space to protect them from extinction.
“Dreamworld has a commitment to wildlife conservation, and we’re incrediblyproud to be able to offer the infrastructure and skill sets required topartner with UQ and QUT on this project.”
Tagged: Koala, Living Koala Genome Bank
Previous Vets out of pocket over disaster animal care costs
Next Federal Government to crackdown on reptile smuggling