Rare white koala born at Australian zoo

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-22 21:27

SYDNEY - A rare white koala joey has been welcomed at a zoo in Australia on Tuesday, prompting thousands of Australians around the country to suggest names for the cuddly creature.

The white koala is one of 12 joeys born this season at Australia Zoo, the zoo established by the legendary "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, in the northern state of Queensland - but none of her siblings share her characteristic coloring, which is thought to be the result of a recessive gene inherited from her mother's side.

Conservationist and CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation Deborah Tabart said she is thrilled by the news, and hopes the focus on this joey can direct attention to koala conservation generally.

"People love white koalas, they are just so unique and beautiful, and they really capture people's imagination," Tabart told Xinhua on Tuesday.

"If zoos have a good strong conservation message, the birth of a white koala might do wonders. The Irwin family always does a great job in highlighting the importance of conservation."

Despite her white fur, the koala's brown eyes and nose mean she is not an albino - and though albino koalas are rare, it is even more unusual for a koala to have white fur, and not have albinism.

Thousands of Australians have responded to the call on social media from Australia Zoo to help them with naming the adorable joey, a number of people suggested traditional Aboriginal names, while others took inspiration from popular culture, and commented the koala should be named after Daenerys, a character from the worldwide smash-hit television show "Game of Thrones", who also has white hair.

Hospital director at the zoo Rosie Booth told local media that when animals are born with white, or extremely pale fur, it is expected that they will eventually shed this fur and their colouring will gradually become darker as they age.

However, it is her white fur that is sure to attract crowds at the Sunshine Coast zoo, while the koala is on display with her mother and siblings.

"I'm sure the koala will be a hit with crowds. It's just the dearest little thing," said Tabart.

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