In an ongoing series, Koala Hospital, National Geographic travels to Port Macquarie, Australia, a few hours from Sydney, to visit the 40-year-old refuge for wild koalas. Volunteers there are clearly delighted at the chance to frolic with the fluffy marsupials, who cling adorably to tree branches and human legs alike. If you can’t make the trek but you want to contribute, you can adopt a wild koala via the hospital’s website, or help them plant a food tree, to counteract the koalas’ loss of habitat.
…a female koala carries her baby in her pouch for about six months. When the infant emerges, it rides on its mother’s back or clings to her belly, accompanying her everywhere until it is about a year old.
Yabbra is one of just two koalas in the UK. He lives at the Edinburgh Zoo and we’ve watched him trot down this hall many, many times this week! A few koala facts:
Koalas and most other marsupials live in Australia and neighboring islands. The only marsupial native to North America is the Virginia opossum.
The word koala may come from an Aboriginal word meaning no drink. Although koalas do drink when necessary, they obtain most of the moisture they need from leaves.
Koalas have thick woolly fur that protects them from both heat and cold. It also acts like a raincoat. People used to hunt koalas for their fur. Now strict laws protect them from hunters, but their habitat is not protected, and it is disappearing as land is developed. More than four-fifths of original koala habitat has been destroyed. People are trying to save what is left.
Newborn koalas—called joeys—continue to develop in their mothers’ pouches… There it stays, safely tucked away, growing and developing for about seven months.
Koalas spend as many as 18 hours a day napping and resting.
Koalas smell like cough drops because of their diet of eucalyptus leaves.
Though koalas look like teddy bears and are sometimes even referred to as koala bears, they are not bears.
Fossils of 12 different extinct species of koala have been found. These extinct koalas were much larger than the ones today. They were like giant koalas!