Koala AIDS Crisis: Another Koala Threat
A koala AIDS epidemic is adding to the litany of threats against the gumtree-dwelling marsupials. Already prone to Chlamydia and threatened by habitat loss, fewer than 43,000 koalas currently live in the wild, and the last thing koalas need is an AIDS crisis. The condition is referred to as KIDS (Koala Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
It's hard to overstate just how fragile the koala population is. They sleep nearly 20 hours per day to conserve the energy they get from eucalyptus leaves, the only food they can eat. Koalas are the result of evolution in a remote corner of the planet, in which eucalyptus trees fend off competitors for sparse water and soil nutrients, making them the only game in town for the koalas, who move from tree to tree during the night and devour the pungent leaves during the day.
A recent report by the Australian Koala Foundation backs up those beliefs. It claims the national population has dropped from 100,000 to fewer than 43,000 in the past six years and if nothing is done to stop the decline, koalas could be extinct within 30 years.
I just saw some of these little guys (and gals) the other week- you just want to pick them up and squeeze them, but you shouldn't: they have claws, and they bite.
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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada