Two female koalas arrive at Riverbanks Zoo

Killarney the koala
Killarney the koala

(Columbia) Oct. 16 ,2003 - The lone 4-year-old male koala at Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo is getting two new playmates.

Two female koalas arrived at the zoo on Monday from Down Under as part of a sister-state agreement between South Carolina and Queensland, Australia..

Right now the koalas are under quarantine, but they are expected to be cavorting about the Koala Knockabout exhibit within the next two months. Lottie and Killarney join the zoo's 4-year-old male, Mirai, who arrived with another male last year from a Japanese zoo.

Riverbanks officials hope Mirai will like the new girls. Animal collection director Ed Diebold says there could be baby koalas at the zoo by the end of next year, if things go well. Diebold says Lottie and Killarney weigh about ten pounds each. Mirai is 18 pounds.

The other male koala introduced at Riverbanks in the spring of 2002 died from an intestinal problem in May.

Koalas are marsupials native to Australia, who typically live solely on leaves of the eucalyptus tree, which are poisonous to most animals and don't provide many nutrients. As a result, koalas sleep about 20 hours a day. Visitors who want to see the koalas awake are told to come early.

updated 8:23am by Chris Rees