The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus).
The scientific name, Phascolarctos cinereus, which is derived from the Greek phaskolos “pouch” and arktos “bear”, was given to the Koala by early Europeans and led to it mistakenly being called a “Koala Bear”.
In fact the Koala is not a bear at all but one of many herbivorous marsupials native to Australia. It’s closest relation being another Australian native, the Wombat.
The name “Koala” Is believed to come from the Australian Aboriginal Dharug language and loosely means “No Water” or “Doesn’t Drink”. The Koala derives the moisture it needs to survive from the Eucalyptus leaves it feeds on.
This well known symbol of the continent is found in the coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia. They are found from Cooktown on the southern part of Cape York Peninsula, down to various areas around Adelaide in South Australia. It was almost rendered extinct in South Australia until stocks from Victoria were used to re kindle it’s existence in that state. The much loved marsupial is not found in Tasmania or Western Australia.
Populations of Koala are also found in inland regions of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in areas which have enough water to support their main source of food, including around 20 species of Eucalypt trees.
One of Australia’s most loved and recognisable native animals, the Koala can be readily seen and petted in many zoos around the country for locals and tourists alike to observe and enjoy.
As with most Australian Native Animals, the Koala cannot be kept as a pet in Australia or anywhere else. The only people allowed to keep them in captivity are registered Zoos, Wild Life Carers and Research Scientists.
While the Australian Government does not consider the Koala to be endangered, most wildlife societies and the US Government would beg to differ. The main threats to the animal’s existance coming from human habitation encroaching on their habitats along with attacks from domestic dogs.
There are very active movements in Australia aimed at preserving the Koala’s natural habits and allowing the population to stabilise and increase. If you want to help in the fight to save this beautiful animal, find out more by following the link below.