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WHAT IS THE KOALA?

Koalas aren't bears. The koala is a mammal related to the kangaroo and wombat. The reason the koala is called a koala bear is because the koala looks like a teddy bear. The koala's scientific name is Phasclarctos cinereus.



Now there are only 2,000 to 8,000 koalas in the wild! Although not officially classified as endangered, the population of Australian koalas has dropped by 90% in less than a decade!

 













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Logging, agriculture and urban development have not only reduced the area available to Koalas, but added other dangers. The koala's habitat has been criss-crossed by roads, resulting in many road kills and attacks by neighboring pet dogs are frequent. Disease, too, has taken its toll on the koala.

The furry, gray koala lives high in the tops of eucalyptus trees. Now a protected species, it is still threatened by the loss of habitat due to seasonal brush fires. While it looks like a small bear, the koala is actually a marsupial whose hands and feet are specially adapted for climbing trees. When it descends to the ground, it shuffles along awkwardly on its short, stocky legs.

The koala lives almost exclusively in the top branches of eucalyptus trees. Its strong legs and sharp claws help it to grip the tree trunks. A nocturnal animal, the koala feeds on the young shoots and leaves on high branches, and spends the day sleeping curled up in the tree.


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