The koala is a cute, round ball of fluff with sharp claws and a big nose. This popular marsupial is Australia's premier icon. Despite the misconception that they live all over Australia, they are only found in small fragmented habitats on the eastern coast of Australia. This habitat fragmentation is due to land clearing for cattle, crop production and housing.
Although there is only one species of koala, koalas can look quite different depending on the climate they live in. Southern koalas (found in South Australia and Victoria) are larger, fluffier and have darker fur than Northern koalas (found in New South Wales and Queensland) due to the cooler climate they live in.
In October 2001, Lone Pine participated in a "koala exchange program" with Perth Zoo in Western Australia. Southern koalas can be seen on display at Lone Pine.
Koalas are fussy eaters. They eat approximately 50 species of the 700+ species of eucalyptus trees in Australia. The belief that the koala is drunk on these leaves is actually a myth. Eucalyptus leaves contain 50% water and 5% sugars and starches. This is a low energy diet therefore they conserve their energy by sleeping about 19 hours a day, which makes them appear intoxicated.
Did you know? The word koala is aboriginal for "no drink" This name came about because koalas hardly ever climb down to the ground for water as they obtain most of it from the eucalypt leaves that they eat.
Koalas have rough pads and sharp claws to climb trees. They have two opposable digits on their front paw and one claw on the hind paw and also fused digits for grooming on their hind paw. Like people, koalas have fingerprints.