Koalas are not bears. They are MARSUPIALS, which means that they carry their young in a pouch.
Koalas have two thumbs on their front paws - to help them climb, to hold onto the tree and to grip their food.
Koalas are NOCTURNAL animals. This means that they sleep in the daytime, and move around and feed at night.
Koalas' fur is different in different parts of Australia. In the southern parts of Australia it is longer and shaggier than in the north, in order to keep them warm in the cold southern winters.
The male koala has a dark scent gland in the center of his chest. He rubs this on the tree in order to mark his territory.
Koalas also communicate with each other by making a noise like a snore and then a belch, known as a "bellow"
Koalas usually have only one cub per year. Older females will usually have one every two years.
Koala babies are known by several names - "pouch young", "back young", "joeys" and "cubs".
When koalas are born, they are only 2 centimetres long, which is about as big as a jellybean!
At birth, koala joeys have no fur and their eyes and ears are still closed.
The koala joey rides in it's mother's backward-facing pouch for about 5 or 6 months, and drinks milk from its mother's nipple. after that, it rides on its mother's back until it leaves home to take care of itself at about 1 year old.
Koalas are fully grown by their third or fourth year.
Koalas do not live in rainforests or desert areas. They live in tall eucalypt ( gumtree ) forests and low eucalypt woodlands.
There are about 600 varieties of eucalypts. Koalas Australia wide eat only about 120 of these. Koalas in a specific area would prefer to eat only about 4-6 different types.
An adult koala eats about 1/2 - 1 kilogram of leaves each night.
Koalas don't normally need to drink as they get all the moisture they need from the gumleaves. However, they can drink if necessary, such as in times of drought.
A forest can only have a certain number of koalas living in it, otherwise they get hungry and sick.
The biggest problem for koalas is that their bushland ( or "habitat" ) is being cut down to make way for houses.
Eucalypts ( gumtrees) are both food and homes for the koalas.
Koalas are protected by law, but their homes and food aren't.
When koalas become upset and worried ( "stressed" ) by the loss of their homes, they may get a disease called " Chlamydia".
Dogs and cars kill many koalas each year.
Probably only between 40,000 to 80,000 koalas remain in Australia. Most of their habitat has already been lost. This makes it very important to preserve what is left.
While koalas can be seen in many zoos, don't you think it would be very sad if there were none left in the wild where they are happiest? This may happen if we continue to allow their habitat to be destroyed at the present rate.