Saturday, November 14, 2009

Koala Bears in Danger!

The Australian Koala Foundation has reported that the cuddly marsupials are in danger of extinction. Their numbers have apparently halved in just the last six years, with projections suggesting that they will be completely gone in the next thirty years. Koalas face a number of threats – habitat loss, bushfires, and Chlamydia (safe sex is not big among Koalas). Global warming is also causing problems for them, as it is making eucalyptus, the only thing they eat, even less nutritious.

As marsupials, Koala Bears are not real bears. Many other marsupials are analogues of non-marsupial animals, pushed by evolution into similar body structure and behaviour (e.g. kangaroos as marsupial antelopes, the (probably) extinct Thylacine as a marsupial wolf, the Tasmanian Devil as a marsupial very fierce animal, etc.). One could make the case for Koalas being a marsupial Panda Bear. Like the Panda, Koalas are very cuddly looking, and like Pandas, they are picky eaters who love to eat an extremely un-nutritious food – bamboo for Pandas and eucalyptus for Koalas. And like Pandas, Koalas are in danger. Hopefully for the furry little fellows, their extreme cuteness and status as a symbol of Australia will lead to similar efforts to preserve them in the wild.

Sleepy Koala


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