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The Plight of the Koala The species Phascolarctos cinereus more commonly known as the koala is a very unique and unusual animal Although it is commonly thought of as a bear the koala is actually a marsupial one of the three groups of mammals and is more closely related to the bandicoot and the American opossum than any species of bear Smith and Harman 1997 The koala is almost exclusively known to most people as the cute and furry animal residing throughout the continent of Australia Although this is true for the most part the koala is a much more intriguing animal A turbulent journey from pre-history through todays struggle to coexist with human neighbors very distinct mating rituals and reproductive habits and most importantly the destruction of their very precise habitat and the consequences this has for the existence of the koala species are the themes to be discussed further The Natuaral History of the Koala Before the history of koalas is discussed in depth a physical description of the koala is in order Koalas as mentioned before are marsupials the female having a pouch in which their young develop Their pouch faces the rear and has a drawstring type muscle that the mother can tighten Koalas are solitary animals meeting only for mating purposes Koalas are the only members of their family due to evolutionary patterns and extinction Phillips1994 The koala averages between 680 and 820 millimeters in lenght from head to tail males generally being more lenghty than females They typically weigh between 49 and 149 kilograms males weighing more than females and as a result of climate differences in regions koalas from the north are smaller in length and weight than koalas from the south Smith and Harman 1997 Koalas are an arboreal animal meaning they live in trees they have a thick coat of wooly fur and are generally grey with a white underside and white
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