Selected eucalyptus preference by the koalas (Phascolarctos cinsereus) at the San Diego Zoo


Galindo ME, Schlegel ML, Andrus CH, Schmidt DA. 2011. Selected eucalyptus preference by the koalas (Phascolarctos cinsereus) at the San Diego Zoo. In Ward A, Coslik A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Ninth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Kansas City, MO.


The San Diego Zoo has the largest group of Queensland koalas in captivity outside Australia. Many of these koalas are on loan in different facilities through North America. Due to the large number of koalas, San Diego Zoo Global maintains an over 4 ha plantation of eucalyptus. A preliminary study conducted at the San Diego Zoo found a variability in the nutritional composition of 13 Eucalyptus species during a six month period. However, no further studies has been performed to stablish a preference for Eucalyptus species. The purpose of this project was to determine intake and preference for 4 selected Eucalyptus species. In order to test if there were preferences between the Eucalyptus species, species dry matter intake was analyzed using a 4 x 12 factorial analysis (4 species and 12 months). The 4 Eucalyptus species were chosen according to a historical consumption from excellent (E. camadulensis), good (E. robusta), to sporadic (E. sideroxylon) and poor (E .dalrympleana). Total daily dry matter intake was analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance to evaluate changes in monthly intake. There was a siginificant interaction (P < 0.05) between Eucalyptus species and month. Except for the months of September and December, koalas consumed more E. camadulensis (P < 0.05) than E. dalrympleana. Total daily eucalyptus dry matter intake averaged 177 g over the entire study with similar (P > 0.05) intakes each month.

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