Koalas have been in the news lately, but not for good reason. As Australia's deadliest fire sweeps across the state of Victoria in southern Australia, many Koalas have been threatened by the disaster. Above, local CFA firefighter David Tree shares his water with an injured Australian Koala at Mirboo North on Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. "It was amazing, he turned around, sat on his bum and sort of looked at me with (a look) like, put me out of my misery," Tree told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I yelled out for a bottle of water. I unscrewed the bottle, tipped it up on his lips and he just took it naturally. "He kept reaching for the bottle, almost like a baby." Koalas are especially vulnerable to wildfires because they move slowly on the ground.
The Koala is the thickset arboreal marsupial herbivore native to Australia. They are found in coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia. Largely exterminated during the early part of the 20th century, the state has since been repopulated with Victorian stock.
The Koala is broadly similar in appearance to the wombat (its closest living relative), but has a thicker coat, much larger ears, and longer limbs. Large southern males weigh about 31 pounds (14kg), while small northern females weigh about 11 pounds (5kg). They have large, sharp claws that help them climb tree trunks, and five fingers with opposable thumbs which provide better gripping ability. Koalas live almost entirely on eucalyptus leaves. Good luck little ones!