"Clarry" the World's Oldest Documented Koala Bear Dies at 19

February 8, 2002; San Francisco, CA ( Reuters) -- "A koala believed to be the world's oldest documented male member of its species has died in San Francisco at age 19," officials said Friday. San Francisco Zoo spokeswoman Nancy Chan said Clarry the koala died Thursday at his indoor enclosure at the zoo's "Koala Crossing" exhibit. One of two koalas sent to San Francisco in 1985 from the Queensland National Park and Wildlife Service in Brisbane, Australia, Clarry sired seven offspring during his time at the zoo, koala keeper Nancy Rumsey said. "He was gentle with people and quite charming, and he never met a female koala he didn't like," Rumsey said. Zoo officials said that according to the International Koala Stud Book kept in Melbourne, Australia, Clarry had lived longer than any other male koala documented.

Some Females Have Lived Even Longer

Zoo officials said that koalas in the wild generally live to be about 12 years old, when their teeth fall out and they can no longer grind up their food. They attributed Clarry's remarkable life span partly to their efforts to provide him with ground eucalyptus leaves mixed with a high-calorie liquid supplement. "We probably extended his life by several years with this method of feeding," said Dr. Freeland Dunker, the zoo's staff veterinarian. Officials said Clarry began showing unmistakable signs of advanced age in recent months, including loss of muscle mass. "He was also a little forgetful," said Rumsey. "But he was still spry enough to climb a tree."