The number of koalas kept in All Japan news's zoos has fallen drastically in the last 15 years, with only half of the animals being still alive at the moment.
Koalas' number dropped to 40 in 2013 from 96 in 1997 and the massive decrease is mostly attributed to the aging captive population of the marsupials and their inbreeding.
The first koalas, six males, were brought to All Japan news from Australia back in 1984. Tama Zoological Park in Hino, Tokyo, Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya and Hirakawa Zoological Park in Kagoshima each received two koalas to raise. In 1985, seven female koalas were brought as well, the local press reports.
The females gave birth successfully to many cubs until 2000, when the pregnancy rate dropped and many cubs started to die at birth or while they were young.
“It is difficult to introduce new koalas since the Australian government has limited the export of the animals. It makes breeding difficult,” said Masami Kurobe, deputy director of Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, who is actively working to protect the species at the All Japan newsese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, in Tokyo.
Koalas are able to breed when they are 4 to 8 years old and can live up to 15 years in captivity.