Koalas bear up well at Dreamworld

UNDER THREAT: Senior koala handler Kate Hearn holding an unnamed joey.
UNDER THREAT: Senior koala handler Kate Hearn holding an unnamed joey. Contributed

DREAMWORLD is encouraging visitors to cuddle 11 new additions to their 60 koalas.

More importantly they are also urging people to be mindful of the ominous state of koala colonies across south east Queensland.

Life Sciences general manager Al Mucci said if trends continued no more koalas would exist east of the Pacific Hwy between Brisbane and the southern border.

“The problem is about much more than just trees,” Mr Mucci said.

“For their habitats they need reasonable tracts of land and, these reserves, they’re not linked which leads to koalas becoming isolated, inbred and diseased.”

He said the fun side of Dreamworld – cuddling an international icon – was not to be ignored, but the serious side was their “cousins in the wild” and comments on their blog highlighted the outrage many felt about koalas’ plight.

“It’s been found that the genetics of our koalas is better than that of wild koalas.

“And overseas visitors are shocked that an animal they identify so clearly with Australia is faring so badly, and we want to educate anyone involved with the management of land, from governments to home buyers, that the decisions they make can affect koala habitats.”

Mr Mucci said the 11 joeys were the largest number of new fluff-balls Dreamworld had had in six years.

“Of the 11 – five of which are female and the other two male – only seven have come out of the pouch,” Mr Mucci said.

“Having more females than males is great for our future breeding programs.”

But he recalled a sobering experience in which he was travelling to Dreamworld past the Coombabah Reserve at 9pm one day.

“I saw about 50 people surrounding a man with a jacket who looked like he was in a bullfight.

“He was trying to stop a koala moving across the road to someone’s backyard.

“I stopped and grabbed the koala; everyone was in shock because it was screaming.

“It was female, I could tell it had been sick for a while and males had been beating it up and trying to mate with it – but there was no escape,” he said.

Topics:  dreamworld koala wildlife

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