To see the full adorable video CLICK HERE
Our home video of Matt and Kylie hand rearing baby Imogen has melted the hearts of the world and trended number one on Facebook world-wide for two consecutive days.
The video which has been described by many as the most adorable home video of all time follows Imogen’s journey from the beginning.
If you haven’t heard the story behind the video though, it is even more heartfelt than the video itself.
What happened was we had two Koala Joeys. Imogen who was approximately 8 months of age and Harry who was approximately 6 months of age. Harry’s mother died tragically from Leukaemia leaving him orphaned so after consulting with industry professionals Keepers decided the best way of ensuring both joeys survived and securing a happy and healthy future for them was to hand rear the older and much stronger Imogen who had already received the vital pap and cross surrogate the younger Harry into Kelly’s (Imogens mother) pouch.
Now some three months on both Joeys are fit and healthy with Imogen slowly starting her transition back into the koala sanctuary and Harry becoming independent and venturing out exploring the branches.
Find us on FACEBOOK to keep up to date with their journey.
Full original media release is as below.
CUTEST KOALA VIDEO EVER MADE – Raising Imogen
Zookeepers create most adorable home video ever seen as they take you on their touching journey of hand rearing tiny Imogen, the Koala joey.
In June this year, Imogen the Koala Joey and her mother Kelly, from Symbio Wildlife Park made worldwide headlines when a video of Imogen’s first journeys out of her mother’s pouch was captured by zoo staff and posted online by Tourism Australia. Within minutes this adorable video went viral and to date has been viewed over 2.3 million times on the major tourism channels page, with Imogen’s subsequent video on their page being viewed 700,000 times respectively.
Just days after the adorable videos were taken and while Imogen was becoming a household fixture around the globe, an unfortunate and major event unfolded at the zoo.
What transpired during this time was the mother of a second and much younger Koala Joey named Harry, sadly passed away unexpectedly from Leukemia leaving her tiny joey orphaned and vulnerable due to being so young and so small.
Following this devastating loss, Zookeepers at Symbio had the toughest decision of all to make.
After consulting with industry specialists, the decision was finally made to hand-rear the older and much stronger Koala Joey Imogen, and attempt to successfully cross surrogate Harry into Kelly’s pouch.
At the stage of his mother’s passing, Harry was yet to emerge from his mother’s pouch. Weighing in at just 250 grams, Harry was estimated at only 22 weeks of age, and was still yet to receive the vital pap from his mother. Pap is a specialised form of maternal faeces, which forms a crucial part of the young Koala’s diet. Having passed through the mother’s digestive system, pap give’s the joey the enzymes it needs to help develop its digestive system to be able to make the important transition from milk to eucalyptus leaves. A mother Koala generally produces pap when her Joey is around 25 weeks, and without receiving pap, a Koala joey cannot survive on a diet of eucalyptus leaves.
Joey Imogen, at an estimated age of 30 – 31 weeks and weighing just over 500 grams, had by this stage received the vital pap from her mother, and had already started emerging from her mother’s pouch and getting a taste for eucalypt leaves.
The decision to hand rear Imogen and cross foster young Joey Harry was the safest choice to ensure both Joeys had the best chances of survival.
Although this was not the very first recorded case of Koala surrogacy, from our understanding it has only ever been successfully completed a handful times in the past, with one of the last known documented occurrences back when Australia’s Wonderland was operational.
From the outset the cross-surrogacy went seamlessly to plan, with Kelly instantly taking over the role of nurturing mother and adopting Harry as her very own.
From day one, Symbio Wildlife Park Curator, Kylie Elliott and General Manager Matt Radnidge, (who were already a long-term couple) put their own lives on hold as it was fast tracked into an unannounced parenthood to hand rear Imogen, taking her everywhere with them and Imogen never leaving their side.
This has resulted in continual sleepless nights due to Imogen being such a cheeky and affectionate koala and always wanting to be close to them, even snuggling into bed each night with them to naturally replicate the closeness she would have experienced with mum. Kylie said “Hand raising Imogen has been the most challenging and rewarding thing we have ever achieved. It hasn’t been an easy journey raising a joey with nocturnal habits and sharp claws – I definitely have a new respect for Koala mothers! Imogen has become such a huge part of our lives, and we are so blessed to have had the opportunity to play a part in her rearing”.
To replicate life in a pouch, over the course of the past two months Imogen has spent her days snuggled inside Kylie’s Jacket in a little pouch to keep her warm. Kylie’s movement and heartbeat kept Imogen content as she slept through the day.
Kylie has been comforted with the general public always commenting “how far along are you?” “Not long to go now hey!” “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl” which is only understandable, as all they have seen was a large bump under her jacket.
It didn’t take long for Imogen to quickly adopt the unconditional love that Kylie and Matt have given her, and it shows through the connection that all three share.
Nights have been spent between the special koala playpen the pair created and snuggled in a pouch with them in bed, with Matt saying “for such a small koala she takes up so much room”. For all you parents out there, you would know all too well the trials and tribulations that come with parenthood. Can you just imagine though if your toddler had sharp claws, loved to nibble your hands, slept through the day, and were awake all through the night enjoying nothing more than climbing all over you whilst you slept?
Matt and Kylie have certainly became a most unusual insta-family, and from the beginning have been documenting their unique journey through amazing photos and video so they could share their special story to the world and capture the memories they are creating to last them lifetime.
As is visible by their home movie and boundless photos, love shows no barriers, and this is one love story that has the happiest of all endings with two very healthy and happy koala joeys set to have a long and wonderful life ahead of them at Symbio.
To date, both the Joey’s health have gone from strength-to-strength. Harry has received pap from his foster mother Kelly, and weighing in at nearly 900 grams has now out grown Kelly’s pouch and is nearly confident enough to start exploring the branches in his enclosure by himself, though will be snuggling into the warmth of his new mother for some time still.
Now at 10 months of age, Imogen has grown in leaps and bounds, now weighing over 1800 grams and spending a lot of her time climbing around her branches and slowly learning how to become more independent. At 12 months of age (or 2.5 kg) Koala Joeys are considered independent, and Imogen will soon be ready to live at Symbio full time, where she will be slowly reintroduced to the other Koalas.
Over the coming months as the adorable Joeys continue to reach important milestones in their lives, Symbio will be giving regular updates and sharing progress photos and videos of their antics and adventures across their social media channels. Given in just over one months time Imogen will be effectively turning one, I am sure the new parents will have something very special planned for their little bundle of joy.
For more information please contact
Symbio Wildlife Park – Marketing and Creative Services Manager
7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Drive Helensburgh NSW 2508
phone +61 2 4294 1244 | mobile 0431 588 862 | website symbiozoo.com.au | email firstname.lastname@example.org