The Koala

The koala is the Australian jewel. It has very furry, ash colored hair,
a rubbery black nose, sharp claws, fuzzy ears, and a grizzly personality, or
should I say, koalality. If you kill a koala, you\'ll make a million off their
fur! They would sell the fur to coat companies and make coats out of koala fur.
Well, sadly enough, too many people are making millions on koalas. That\'s why
they\'re endangered species.

The koala is distributed along the eastern coastal semi-tropical forests
of Australia, ranging from north Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and a
small area in the south of Australia.

The male koala and the female koala have two very different mating calls.
When humans reach their sexual maturity at around the age of 14 or 15, koalas
reach their sexual maturity at the age of two. The female produces one baby
every other year. The koala almost never produces twins. In the female\'s pouch,
there are two nipples. The female koala gives birth after a 20-35 day gestation
period. When the joey (baby koala) is born, it is no longer than 2 cm and
weighs no more than a 1/2 gram. The joey stays in its mother\'s pouch for 5-7
months. The term "joey˛ is used when you are talking about a baby marsupial.
The mother gives "pap˛ to the joey, a liquid from the caecum (which is similar
to the human organ, appendix.) This is thought to give the joey the ability to
eat only eucalyptus leaves. When the joey emerges from the pouch, it clings to
its mother for another seven months. The joey stays with its mother for another
three or four years, until it is fully grown.

Koalas eat eucalyptus and don\'t drink water. I guess that\'s how they
got their name. In the aboriginal language, "koala" means "no drink water."
But, the koala does drink water, only when it is ill. Out of the 350 species of
eucalyptus, the koala can only eat 20, will only eat 5, and only prefers to eat
a certain one.

Population and Extinction
Since the koala population has dropped since 50% since the turn of the
century, the Australian government passed a law banning anything harmful to the
koalas. At first, in the 1920\'s they were killed for their fur. Then, somehow,
a high percentage of them became infected with a very contagious disease,
chlamydia psittaci. Chlamydia psittaci causes blindness, pneumonia, and for
females, sterilization. It has slowed down a lot since it was first introduced
to the koala population, but the virus is still going around (chylamydia
psittaci is an endangered virus.) The koala population is also still falling due
to destroyed habitats. The developers are coming into koala habitat and cutting
down eucalyptus, selling it and building homes. By the 2030\'s, the koalas will
have no place to live. Now, sadly, in Sydney, koalas must cross the street to
get to another eucalyptus tree. They have to go to another eucalyptus tree
every once and a while because that tree is the same tree from the same forest.
A lot of koalas are now becoming roadkill.

General Information
The koala is a one of a kind animal. It is the only one of its kind.
There are two sub-species of koala though, in which there is the tiniest
difference. The southern one has a darker colored fur than the northern because
it is colder in the south. The koala has only one relative, the wombat. Koalas
and wombats share a common ancestor from some 25 million years ago on the
landmass Lauasia (an ancient landmass that separated to make South America,
Africa, and Australia.) Most people think that the koala is related to bears,
that is not true, the koala is an aboreal (tree dwelling) bear. Most people
also think that the koala is not harmful, that\'s wrong. The koala is more like
a grizzly bear than a teddy bear. The koala is dangerous because of its
extremely sharp claws. Its scientific name is Phascolarctos (pouched
bear)cinerus (ash-colored.) An adult four year old koala eats 1.3 kg. (3 lb.)
of eucalyptus per day. It also weighs 13.6 kg. (30 lb.) and is 60-85 cm. (21-33
in.) The koala sleeps a lot. The koala is also nocturnal, that\'s why the koala
exhibit at the zoo is always boring. The eucalyptus that the koala eats is very
impor tant to them because if they change to a different forest, it could be
fatal because they can usually only eat one species of eucalyptus.

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