Column: Koala go bye bye


The koala could be extinct in as few as 15 years.

I am beyond sad at the moment.

Picture the koala bear. It is, by far, one of the cuddliest creatures Mother Nature has to offer with those big Dumbo ears and that cute Hamptons upturned nose and those Freddy Krueger claws.

I just want to rush up to one and hug it.

But now I may never get that chance unless I manage to end up in Australia in the next 15 years, with the chances of that happening severely dampened by the fact it’s no longer a penal colony.

This dire “koala go bye bye” warning comes from the Australian Koala Foundation, an organization devoted to saving, you guessed it, the Olsen twins. The Koala Foundation claims that due to habitat loss, the cutesy-wutesy koalas may soon fade into oblivion.

But at the moment, a surprisingly robust number of the furry mammals are still alive and kicking, or climbing trees, or watching “New York Minute”, or whatever it is koalas do. About 100,000 koalas still inhabit Australia, a number great enough that I can’t count to it in one sitting.

But those numbers are dwindling quickly according to the AKF, and they will dwindle even faster as the koala loses more and more of its natural habitat.

The AKF says 80 percent of the koala land has already been destroyed and that the remaining 20 percent is not protected by anybody, which means there is nothing to prevent the Jeffersons and the Bunkers from moving in.

Another point the AKF loves to, well, point out is that 4,000 koalas are killed by cars and dogs each year. This is boldly printed on their Web site in a number of places. So, 4 out of every 100 koalas die each year because either a car ate it or a dog ran over it.

I’m just waiting for someone to walk up up to an AKF member and say, “Maybe the dingo ate your koala.”

Another one of the problems AKF says is affecting koalas is inbreeding. To which I reply, Queen Elizabeth I was the result of inbreeding and she didn’t turn out so bad.

Also, the koala bear is not a bear at all. It is a marsupial. Which means it keeps one of the Olsen twins in its pouch. Though I’m not sure what this has to do with extinction.

The AKF maintains that legislation needs to be enacted to protect the koala’s bungalows. The koala is already a protected animal, but the eucalyptus trees that keep it alive are not. The koala is notoriously picky. It won’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It won’t eat corn on the cob. No, the only food suitable for the koala is eucalyptus.

I can feel sorry for the koala here. When I was young, I hated to eat peas. I hated peas with a passion. I would not eat them.

But if it came down to a choice between peas and death, well then give me peas. Any animal that would choose starvation over peanut butter and jelly is no friend of mine.

Of course, it’s not the koala’s fault it can’t handle any other food rather than eucalyptus. How would you like it if the only thing your body could digest was a leaf? That’s like somebody going on the Atkins diet without reading anything about it.

Maybe the only reason we want to save an animal that is 100,000 strong is because it’s so gosh darn cute. What does this say about us? What does this say about our culture? And does anybody know how I can get to Australia so I can hug a koala before they are all gone.

For more information, go to http://www.savethekoala.com.

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