It’s been a tough weekend here in Australia. On Friday, just a couple of hours after I posted my roundup of the news, Doug the baby koala passed away.
Tomorrow is Australia Day here, a national holiday and a day of celebration. In light of poor Doug, it will be a true test of this nation’s character to see if those celebrations are as enthusiastic as they usually are.
The BobinOz family have been invited to an Australia Day party, I have yet to check with the organiser but I am hoping it still goes ahead.
So what went wrong? I tuned into the national news to find out.
After showing signs of improvement, vets thought he would make a full recovery, complications set in on Friday afternoon which required emergency surgery. Doug, who was dehydrated and possibly suffering from pneumonia, didn’t pull through.
A post-mortem showed that one of the pellets had moved into his chest. Worse than that, it shows that Doug had been shot from point-blank range. He never stood a chance.
There have been calls for the person to surrender, but I can’t see it happening. Why? Because the maximum penalty for killing a koala in Australia is a $300,000 fine or two years imprisonment.
With the amount of publicity this incident has attracted, officials might find a way of imposing the $300,000 fine AND two years imprisonment.
Yes, this article is a little tongue in cheek, but anyone who reads my blog regularly will know how much I adore the diversity of Australian wildlife. So yes, it is sad. And yes, I hope they find the pathetic, cowardly moron who ended Doug’s life.
But as a tribute to Doug and koalas everywhere, I present……
The Koala: An Australian Icon! Fifteen Fun Facts.
- The koala is not a bear. It’s a marsupial; that means mummy has a pouch.
- The koala gets its name from an ancient aboriginal word meaning “no drink”. This is because the koala can survive for long periods of time with “no drink”.
- The koala lives in the eucalyptus tree and survives by eating eucalyptus leaves.
- Koala’s sleep for around 18 to 20 hours a day.
- Koalas communicate with a range of sounds, best described as grunts. But when they are scared they make a sickening cry like a baby screaming.
- A baby koala is called a joey. (Not Doug!)
- The koala’s real scientific name is Phasclarctos cinereus, which just doesn’t sound so cute. No wonder it didn’t catch on.
- If koalas weren’t so slow and didn’t sleep so much, who knows, maybe Skippy would have been a koala. Instead, as we know, the job went to a kangaroo.
- One of the top three reasons the Japanese like to visit Australia is to cuddle a koala. Don’t know about you, but I now want to know the other two reasons.
- Koala’s are cute, but they can be aggressive. Attacks on humans are incredibly rare. The only evidence I have found, which was anecdotal, is about an apparent attack on a woman in Adelaide back in December 2002. She required surgery to her ear. Koalas do have strong claws.
- Have I seen any wild koalas? No, but the trees down at my local park are covered with the tell-tale claw marks that koalas make when they climb up a tree. So they are around for sure.
- The biggest threats to the koala are land clearing, dogs, cars, dingoes, goannas, owls, eagles, and some large pythons. (Not the air rifle).
- Koala’s can be found in the wild in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
- It is estimated that 90% of the koala population has been destroyed in the last 20 years. The population could now be as low as 43,000 to 80,000.
- Back in the 1800s, and up to around the year 1900, something like 2.5M to 3 million koalas were shot for the American and European fur market.
I wonder if that made the news. It makes Doug’s story pale into insignificance. How long before the koala is extinct? Environmentalists are already beginning to worry.
Yes, the koala is an Australian icon.