Koalas are surprisingly difficult to write about. They are extremely cute, notably in the ear department, and their noses will forever remind me of the smooth black plastic on the face of a toy koala, rather disturbingly made from real fur, which I once owned. But they aren’t under threat, they sleep 75% of the time and they barely make a noise. We have some old film of my grandfather holding a koala, presumably in Australia, but the thing I tend to remember about that footage is me thinking: “WOW! His nose was MASSIVE! He just turned sideways and nearly took the photographer’s eye out! Mine’s a total peewit compared to that!”
Koalas do fight, however, as proved in the video below.
After watching this in the name of research, I felt decidedly peculiar. As Taya put it in Wild #4: Koala Crazy: “It was like discovering your favourite teddy bear had just sprouted fangs.” (Incidentally, a koala is not a bear. Bet you didn’t know that.)
Seriously? A koala can actually cause injury, beyond making your heart explode with fluffiness? The answer, my friends, is YES. Not much, admittedly – we’re not talking Grizzly Great White standards here – but they are more dangerous than you think. And therein hung a plot line for my book. That, an idiotic rap star, a confused kangaroo and a very small crocodile. (Read the book. I promise it makes sense.)
However, this threat from a koala’s teeth and claws has recently paled into insignificance before an entirely different koala fact. I did refer to chlamydia in the book, it being the main problem koalas face, though I confess that it was just in passing. Little did I know the mileage that was to come. Thanks to a splendid bit of pop reportage, all the most interesting things about koalas have now koalesced (see what I did there?) into One Stupendous Fact For Which People Will Forever Remember Koalas (And Maybe One Direction):
Their wee is poisonous.
I hope Harry Styles and the rest of the 1D boys didn’t contract chlamydia when that koala widdled on them. Chlamydia is a very nasty and practically invisible disease which can make you infertile. But I thank them for hurtling the sweet, unassuming koala to the top of the Interesting Animals list. When I get a reprint, I’ll suggest a credit.