You may not know it but a very important koala has been living in Dubbo for the past 18 months.
Four-year-old Luca is initially from Taronga Zoo in Sydney. And as keeper Karen James said, he’s definitely met the stars.
During his media debut, Luca was introduced to Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
Koala Norman is well known in Dubbo for his interactions with the community, but like Prince Philip he’s retired from public life.
“Koalas only live until 15 so he’s quite an old boy and we’ve let him retire from large events and we’ve got the young gun in to take over,” Ms James said.
Luca is already a fan of the limelight. Ms James said the cuddly koala loved meeting people and he chose to go on public encounters to meet his fans.
“He’s putting the word out for koalas so if one person leave after meeting Luca loving koalas a little bit more, and taking notice how the plight of koalas is affected in the wild, that’s his job done for the day,” Ms James said.
Koalas have recently entered the endangered species list as a threatened animal. The animals are declining in the wild due to deadly viruses.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has a successful koala breeding program, Ms James said. In the last year they’ve welcomed three koala joeys.
Sixteen koalas live at the zoo. Luca is housed with another male, Pepper.
“Luca and Pepper live together so they can take it in turns to do media events but Pepper’s a little slower at learning when it comes to media interaction,” Ms James said.
Just like humans, animals had their own personalities she said, making some koalas more suited to meeting royalty than others.