Koalas and Chlamydia in Australia

Many years ago, 26 to be precise, The Sun ran a headline that said…

“Freddie Starr ate my hamster”

Freddie Starr, the comedian in question, got a pretty good boost to his career from that one. Of course, the story was completely untrue.

Well, The Sun are still at it. On Saturday they ran with the headline….

One Direction sex disease scare: Problems Down Under?

The story then goes on to explain how a couple of members of the band “One Direction” may have caught Chlamydia from cuddling a koala in a Brisbane koala sanctuary. That, I don’t doubt, would have been Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is just up the road from me.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Entrance

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Entrance

Apparently, they both took turns in holding a koala called Kat. And the koala then took turns to go to the toilet, number ones, on each of the boy band members.

That’s a pretty neat trick for a koala, maybe it’s a perk of the job for them?

Now the boys are worried that they might have caught Chlamydia from the koala.

As for that hamster eating story, Max Clifford, Freddie Starr’s publicist, has long since admitted that the story was a pack of lies. It was put out there purely for the publicity.

I wonder who One Direction use as their publicist, and if this person is aware of Max Clifford’s publicity tricks? Because the day before yesterday, I had never heard of One Direction, now look at me!

I know they are a boy band, I know they have just toured Brisbane, I also know they are now in New Zealand touring and I even know the name of a couple of the band members and what they look like.

Koalas and Chlamydia

Okay, let’s clear this one up. Chlamydia in Queensland’s koalas is a massive problem, but not for humans, just the koalas. It is estimated around 70-80% of koalas here are carrying the disease which can be passed on at birth.

They have two types of Chlamydia; Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia pneumoniae. Neither of these are the same as the Chlamydia that humans get; pecorum is the common type that affects most koalas and pneumoniae is very rare.

Pecorum cannot jump to other species, whereas pneumoniae can, although there is no evidence of this ever spreading from koalas to humans.

So, One Direction have more chance of making a record that I like as they do of catching Chlamydia. Yes, I checked them out on YouTube.

So, please don’t feel sorry for this boy band, save your pity for the iconic koala. There are real concerns that this favourite Australian icon could be extinct in 30 years or so, unless the spread of Chlamydia can be controlled.

A vaccine is currently being tested. Let’s hope it works, because koalas are cute. Here’s just a few of my cute koala posts, including a link to those 15 fun facts…

Meanwhile, The Sun continues to spread rumours that koalas can give humans Chlamydia.

But before you blame the Poms for this ridiculous slur on our koalas, you started it!

Australian Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun.

Chlamydia information courtesy of NYTimes

Update 27 January 2017

Almost 7 years ago to the day, I wrote a post called In Memory of Doug, the Baby Koala: Nov 2009 – Jan 2010, which included a section called The Koala: An Australian Icon! Fifteen Fun Facts.

The very first fact said:

  • The koala bear is not a bear. It’s a marsupial; that means mummy has a pouch.

Today I got an email from somebody who works in animal conservation, including helping koalas. He said ‘ I have just read your “15 Facts About Koalas” on the ‘net, and, while it is well written and generally accurate, you do refer to Koalas as bears, which is, unfortunately, wrong – they are marsupials, and should be referred to simply as “Koalas”.

Yes, I know, it is fact number one from that post in 2010.

So how or why the ‘bear’ word slipped into that post towards the end and in this post, not once but twice, I really don’t know. I know I always used to refer to them as ‘koala bears’ when I was a kid, so maybe old habits die hard.

Even I wince nowadays when people call it a ‘koala bear’. It further baffles me why I thought it a good idea to debate with all the people who complained about the ‘bear’ word in the comments below.

Anyway, I have now done the right thing, I have deleted the offensive furry carnivorous mammal tag from, hopefully now, all references on this website to koalas.

Apologies to all, especially koalas everywhere.

Visa Assessment Service
Visa Assessment Service
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Theresa May 7, 2012, 4:57 am |

    so when/why the ‘bear’ tag?

    • BobinOz May 8, 2012, 9:07 pm |

      I think it’s just because they look a bit like one, a cute little teddy bear. It’s a pretty strong tag as well, there’s even a website called koalabear.org.

  • Kirri April 24, 2012, 10:46 pm |

    Well, if I’m gonna nitpick I could say that actually you used it twice but I’ll overlook that. 🙂
    Hopefully in return, you can overlook my poorly phrased comment about many people I know wincing over this particular post. I just know people that hate this in general. My sister has been known to tell off tourists at her work for calling it a bear, I thought she’d be annoyed at me if I didn’t call you out on it. I mean how are you gonna learn if the rest of us Aussies don’t point things out to you.
    I should also point out that as a true blue Aussie now, it’s your responsibility to be up at dawn tomorrow and attend the dawn services for ANZAC day. Enjoy that 🙂 But don’t worry, your responsibility for the rest of the day is to drink large quantities of alcohol. I’m sure you can manage that 🙂

    • BobinOz April 25, 2012, 5:05 pm |

      But let’s not overlook my 13 mentions of koalas without the ‘bear’ tag hmmm?

      Anyway, your comment made me think, quite a bit. Enough to actually write today’s post about it, see Anzac Day Dawn Service.

      Hope you didn’t mind me quoting you. Cheers!

      • Kirri April 25, 2012, 5:39 pm |

        Not at all, I’m honoured to have inspired a post on such a worthy topic. I didn’t actually expect you to go. I didn’t either. I did watch the dawn service at Gallipoli on tv though and I do find them incredibly moving. Definitely worth attending if you can get yourself up that early.

        • BobinOz April 26, 2012, 4:09 pm |

          Thanks Kirri, and yes, I might give it a go next year.

  • Kirri April 24, 2012, 9:53 am |

    I know you can get chlamydia from chickens, cause my sis used to work with chickens and one of her colleagues got chlamydia from them. I rather enjoyed going around telling people that my sister had to be tested for chlamydia that she mights have gotten from a chicken 🙂 I think that might have been a different type as well though.
    Also, like many Australians I know, I winced when you called it a koala “bear”. Now I know you know that it’s not a bear, why do you still call it one?

    • BobinOz April 24, 2012, 9:52 pm |

      Wow, you’re tough! I only mentioned the “bear” word once, and now many Australians are wincing? Be gentle with me, I’ve only been an Aussie for three months 🙂

      Still learning…

  • John April 24, 2012, 5:36 am |

    Yes, in Brisbane ‘Koala’ bushlands there are zero koloas. In Toohey forest, which is fairly large, there is a project going on to monitor them, it’s been going on quite a while and so far only two have been spotted. I saw a third one by chance in Toohey forest just last week, unfortunately it was dead, although the cause of death is not known as yet. There is a population in Karawatha reserve, but I’m not sure how many. Koalas are also the victims of traffic and domestic dog attack, when they do move from tree to tree, they do it on the ground and slowly, which makes them vulnerable.

    • BobinOz April 24, 2012, 9:41 pm |

      Yes, it’s a shame, they are a very rare sight these days. I was a bit surprised that my friend got one in his back garden (there’s a link to pictures above in the post), he only lives a couple of kilometres from me. I’m in Brisbane’s western suburbs.

      And I’ve also seen claw marks of the koala down the local park on the trees. It’s a tough environment for koalas these days, but we don’t want to lose them.

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