/ 05 July 2024

Back away from the koala

Not Claude, but just as cute...

Chances are you’ve got a childhood snap with one of our national icons, but the long-held tradition of cuddling a koala is falling out of favour. Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the latest nature park to stop offering paying punters the chance to hold the marsupials in a move it says will “address increasing public demand” for “more immersive and educational experiences”. That’s a very tactful explanation, but ecologists say koalas are naturally solitary creatures and holding them can induce stress. It might not sound like a big deal, but the practice is already strictly regulated and effectively banished in NSW, Victoria, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. But one of our most famous facilities is holding out… Australia Zoo – aka home of the late Steve Irwin – near Beerwah in Queensland still offers a $124 “cuddly koala encounter”. Perhaps it’s time our pollies found another awkward photo op

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