The koala is one of Australia's most famous animals. With their muscular bodies and strong limbs, they’re well suited to life in the trees.
Koalas are categorised as Vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT, and Near Threatened in Victoria.
The greatest threat to koalas is loss of habitat due to agriculture and development. Since European settlement, about 80% of their habitat has disappeared, and little of the remaining 20% is protected.
A disease called Chlamydia also contributes to their declining numbers.
Healesville Sanctuary is renowned for its care of these unique native animals, with koala exhibits set in stunning Australian bushland.
Koalas are not bears! They’re marsupials, and give birth to tiny, barely formed young who finish development outside the mother’s body, in a pouch.
Koalas are mainly nocturnal. They spend about 18–20 hours sleeping while their stomachs handle a diet that is low in nutrition and hard to digest.
Their front and hind legs have five-digit paws that are specially adapted for grip—on each front paw, two fingers act like thumbs. Koalas inhabit low altitude forests and woodlands across central and southern mainland Victoria, and on Raymond, Snake, French and Phillip islands.
Facts about koalas
- The brain of an average koala weighs only 17 grams!
- Koalas’ fur is longer and thicker in the south of Australia, where winters are colder.
- Koala vocalisation sounds like a combination of a loud snore and a burp, and is called a ‘bellow’.