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5 Myths About Koalas That Every Aussie Should Know Before Wild Koala Day on May 3

April 8, 2017 Responsible Tourism 2 Comments Email Email

With Wild Koala Day approaching and record growth in international tourism, knowing koala facts from fiction could save embarassment for many Aussies.

Wildlife Tourism expert Janine Duffy said that Aussies love to tell stories about drop bears and stoned koalas but the laughs turn to red faces when the visitors know more than the locals.

“Tourists are increasingly well-informed about Australian wildlife” said Ms Duffy.

“International travellers want Aussies to know all about native animals – they want to hear our stories” she said.

“Tourists become quite shocked when a local tells them koalas are drunk, when they know its not true.”

“With Wild Koala Day approaching on May 3, there has never been a better time to learn the truth about our favourite fluffy native.”

Here are the 5 most common myths Ms Duffy hears about koalas:

  • Koalas are drunk/stoned on eucalyptus NOT TRUE There is no alcohol in eucalyptus leaves. Koalas rest because they have a low nutrient diet.
  • Koalas eat only one type of gum-tree NOT TRUE Koalas have been found to eat hundreds of species of eucalyptus.
  • Koalas are slow NOT TRUE Koalas can run at 32km/hr and leap up a tree in 2 metre bounds
  • Koalas are docile and love to be cuddled NOT TRUE Healthy wild koalas are not docile and will usually defend themselves if a human tries to touch them. Even in captivity, scientific studies have shown koalas become stressed when humans approach within 5 metres.
  • Koalas are overpopulated NOT TRUE Koalas around Australia are declining in every state except South Australia. There are 5 to 6 well-publicised populations of koalas in Victoria and SA that are over populated, but they are the exception, not the rule.

Ms Duffy said knowing this information is becoming critical as, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics* Australia has recorded another record year for international tourism, with growth of 11% over 2015 arrivals.

“It’s still funny to see a koala lazing over a branch and comment on how much they look like us after a few tipples.” said Ms Duffy.

“But of course, you can wink and say its not really true”, she said.

Wild Koala Day Organiser Rosie O’Brien agrees.

“For Wild Koala Day on May 3 we are calling on Australians to protect koalas in the wild” said Ms O’Brien.

“We can only do that when we know some basic facts about koalas” she said.

Australians wanting to learn about wild koalas and Wild Koala Day can visit the website at or the blog at

*Tourism Australia media release February 2017

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jarlath Reidy says:

    Great article and information. Thanks for sharing good information about koalas. I hope to visit some day and see one – from a distance.

  2. Cheryl Egan says:

    So sad that Australians do not realise how close we are to losing our koalas to history. There needs to be a food protection act put into place immediately to save the remaining colonies

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