No Stuffed Toy

September 17, 2012

Australian Reptile Park
Somersby, New South Wales

Many people refer to these cute, fluffy creatures as koala bears. However, they're in no way related to bears. They belong to the marsupial family, which means they're born immature and stay in the safety of a pouch to develop further.

Yes, they're more related to kangaroos. In fact, like baby kangaroos, baby koalas are also called joeys. They're furless, earless, and blind when they're born. But after birth, they worm their way into their mommy's pouch. They stay there for about six months to fully develop.

Koalas are mostly nocturnal although they also move about during the day like these ones in the photos. I was so happy to have seen very active koalas since most were sleeping in the trees when I visited this park. They can actually sleep for up to 18-20 hours each day.

There's this perception that they sleep most of the time because they're drunk on gum leaves or eucalyptus. While these leaves are considered extremely toxic to most animals, it isn't the reason koalas spend most of their time inactive.

Eucalyptus leaves are koalas' main source of diet. They're fibrous and happen to have low nutritional content. To surive with such a diet, koalas need to sleep to conserve energy which is required for digesting their food well.

While Australia still has plenty of gum trees in rainforests or desert areas which are the natural habitat of these lovely animals, habitat loss is causing a huge threat to koalas. Bushfires, land clearing, and diseases of gum trees resulted to the decline of their population.

My heart breaks for these beautiful creatures. I hope every individual around the world learns to be a good steward of everything that has been entrusted to us including the well-being of these animals.

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