Just Want to be Cool
When watching a koala one might be persuaded to believe they are the most relaxed animal on earth. If not sleeping or eating gum leaves, you can usually find them stretched out and licking their arms as if they hadn’t a care in the world. It makes you almost yawn thinking about it. But before you chock the koala up as lazy, let’s examine the real reasons behind its tendency to be a “cool” critter.
Firstly, the koala has no sweat glands. Therefore it must cool itself by stretching out and licking its arms. Think of the those sweltering hot summer days (no thanks to global warming, of course), where all you want to do is stretch out on a chair, in front of a fan and hope the weather finds forgiveness delivered in a gentle breeze. That is all koalas can do under the hot Australian sun.
Their lackadaisical behavior can also be attributed to their low-quality diet consisting of mainly eucalyptus leaves. This diet, high in fiber but low in protein, affords them limited energy. Think of them as the ultimate energy conservationists. Why bother spending the little energy they have running about when all they need is right there in the tree where they live.
So, next time you see a koala bear stretched out, licking its fur, and it can’t be even bothered to look in your direction… do not jump to the conclusion it is lazy or unsocial, just remember it is doing what it must do to stay “cool”. And hope a gusty wind will come along to help the little critter.
Lincoln Park Zoo. 1997. Species Data Sheet: Phascolarctos cinereus. http://www.lpzoo.com/animals/mammals/facts/koala.html
Dubuc, J. and D. Eckroad. 1999. “Phascolarctos cinereus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 31, 2008 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Phascolarctos_cinereus.html.