Save the Koala Day is observed annually on the last Friday of September. It was created to raise awareness of the dangers that koalas face on a daily basis and highlight the importance of conserving their natural habitat.
The koala, sometimes inaccurately called koala bear, is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to coastal areas of eastern and southern Australia. Koalas can be found in the states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria. Although koalas resemble bears, the two animals are not related at all. The koala is the only extant species of the genus Phascolarctos. Its closest living relative is the wombat.
Koalas spend most of their time in eucalyptus trees which they feed on. Although the genus Eucalyptus consists of more then 600 species, koalas show a strong preference for the foliage of around 30 of them. Due to eucalyptus leaves having a high water content, koalas don’t have to drink often. However, larger koalas do require additional sources of water, contrary to a popular misconception that koalas don’t drink at all.
Since the foliage of eucalyptus isn’t a particularly great source of energy, koalas sleep or rest up to 20 hours a day to limit their energy use and spend most of their waking time eating. They spend most of their time in trees and descend to the ground only when they need to move to another tree. Koalas are asocial animals and don’t interact much with one another with the exception of mothers and their offspring (by the way, young koalas are called joeys).
The koala is classified as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Read List of Threatened Species. The main threat faced by koalas is the destruction and fragmentation of habitat caused by urbanization in coastal areas and by land clearing in rural areas. Other threats include attacks by domestic dogs, wildlife-vehicle collisions, bushfires, droughts, and the effects of climate change.