The dead koala is a 7-year old female called Coco. She died on 25 November.
Pairi Daiza spokesman Mathieu Goedefroy told VRT News that “We don’t yet know the exact cause of death as the autopsy has not yet been completed. However, there is a strong possibility that it was retrovirus as it kills a lot of koalas. The virus is decimating the koala population in the wild and in zoos the world over. This is one f he reasons why koalas are threatened with extinction.”
A retrovirus is a type of RNA virus, a virus that inserts a copy of its genome into the DNA of a host cell that it invades, thus changing the genome of that cell. HIV is one of the best-known examples of such a retrovirus.
If a retrovirus is confirmed as being the cause of death Coco will be the third koala to die of a retrovirus in the past year and a half. A fourth koala died due to issues with its digestive system.
Of the five koalas that were at Pairi Daiza there is now just one that remains. He is the 6-year old male Buddy. Fortunately for him koalas are solitary animals. Nevertheless, Buddy won’t be on his own for long as two new koalas are due to be sent to Pairi Daiza by its partners in Australia.