March 29, 2012

You are not going to believe this but every word is true!

Have you ever wanted to snuggle a koala? I realize thatís a silly question, because obviously of course you have. But donít forget that koalas are still bears. And by ďbearĒ I mean they are marsupials that arenít really bears but, gosh, we need to call them bears because of their sharp, sharp claws! Thatís right, they have claws. Like lions. And tigers. And ... well ... bears.

But donít worry too much, if you are attacked by a koala bear while snuggling, the police will have no trouble finding the koala who did it because they have fingerprints and almost never wear gloves when accidentally attacking people while snuggling. Theyíre also super easy to catch because they sleep 18-22 hours a day. So, there is a very good chance your koala attacker will be caught and brought to trial. Although, who could really convict a koala bear of anything but cuteness?

Anyway, yesterday Lady Laura and I bought four new tires for our car. Instead of going right home like a good little boy, I decided to get on Interstate 80 and give them a test. We got up to speed and ran several exits down the road. We had been out most of the morning and it was then that my bladder needed attention. We pulled into the next rest stop and I took care of business.

When I came out of the restroom I could hardly believe my eyes. Lady Laura was out of the car talking to the people who were parked next to us. That's not the unusual part - Laura talks to EVERYBODY ... anytime ... anywhere. But what she had in her arms shocked me.

At first I thought it was a gray dog. That's not unusual for Laura either. But the closer I got to the car the less it looked like a dog and Laura was beaming from ear to ear. As I approached Laura I realized what she had in her arms - a koala bear!!

Turns out the the couple in the car parked next to us had moved to the United States from Australia several years ago. They were zoologists and worked at the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium and were taking a vacation before the tourist season begins. We talked with them for almost and hour and I learned a lot about Laura's new little friend (and she only got one tiny scratch from the little critter). I tried to hold it but Laura's new buddy wanted to be held only by her.

A koala leaves its mother to take care of itself somewhere between the ages of one and three years old. And it really takes advantage of sleeping in - the koala sleeps between 18 and 22 hours a day! When it's awake, the koala usually limits its activity to eating. If it's day sounds a little boring to you, probably so does what it eats. The koala eats only eucalyptus leaves.

Even though there are about 600 kinds of eucalyptus, the koala is a fussy eater and will choose only a few species to eat. Koalas don't normally drink; they get the water they need from eating the eucalyptus. About the only time a koala will drink is if there is a drought and the plants don't contain as much water.

Eucalyptus leaves actually contain toxins, or poisons, which can be harmful to other animals, but a koala has special bacteria in its stomach that get rid of these poisons. Still, the koala doesn't get much energy from eating just eucalyptus, so it moves pretty slowly even when it's awake. The koala will rarely climb down to the ground except to move on to another food tree.

In the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of koalas were killed for their fur. Though koalas are now a protected species, their habitats are not protected. Since koalas have such a special diet, destroying eucalyptus trees basically leaves koalas nowhere to live and nothing to eat. There are many conservation organizations trying to get laws passed which protect these habitats as well as the animals.

In other news, I canít decide whether I know too much or too little about koala bears.