Introducing the Koala Life Research Series: Dr. Ian Hough

23 Aug. 2021 5 min read

Introducing the Koala Life Research Series - a series bringing you informative interviews from scientists and key players involved in the latest survival science research.

In this Koala Life Research Series, Koala Life talks to Dr. Ian Hough. If anyone understands the vision and future of the golden children, it is Dr. Hough. Dr. Hough is the vet for Cleland Wildlife Park, Gorge Wildlife Park, and Koala Life. Koala Life talks to him about the golden children, survival science, and the difficulties of breeding koalas.

“The Golden Children are very special in that they don’t have Chlamydia and they don’t have retrovirus, two diseases which are devastating the populations in northern and eastern Australia,” Dr. Hough says. By not having these two diseases, these koalas provide a unique opportunity to better understand koala management and disease processes. Answers from this research can be applied to the species overall - a goal of survival science.

“We're looking to find answers which will actually spread across the Australian landscape for koalas,” says Dr. Hough. “Survival science is looking at the whole spectrum in totality rather than cherry picking bits and pieces and looking at that in isolation.”

As well as their contribution to research, Dr. Hough hopes that the golden children will create a large population of disease free koalas that could potentially be used to repopulate areas. However, breeding koalas brings with it a new set of challenges. “Because the diet of koalas is so energetically balanced the males are really only good for about five matings in a breeding season,” says Dr. Hough. In order to maximize the number of young every year, a sufficient number of males are needed to cater to all the females.

You can watch the full interview with Dr. Hough below or on the Koala Life YouTube channel. Stay tuned for more in the Koala Life Research Series, coming soon!