"Silent stress"

Koala cuddling banned in most of Australia

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09.07.2024 20:02

In most Australian states, it is no longer permitted to cuddle koalas. The exceptions are Queensland and South Australia, where strict rules apply and the equivalent of more than 70 euros per person must be paid.

In Queensland, each animal is given a rest day after a maximum of three days of cuddling. Only trained keepers are allowed to place the animals in the arms of another person and remove them from there. In addition, a koala may be removed from its natural environment for tourist purposes for a maximum of half an hour per day, and never for more than three hours per week.

Putin and Obama held koalas
For years, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in tropical Queensland was a top address for contact with the eucalyptus eaters. Heads of state and government such as former US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as singer Taylor Swift and tennis player Roger Federer, have traveled there. However, the conservation center has now joined the ban, which is already in force in large parts of Australia.

Koala with young (Bild: AFP)
Koala with young

Some people are very disappointed. "I won't go back if I can no longer cuddle a koala," said one regular visitor. But you don't have to give up contact completely. Animal lovers can now watch the koalas eating, sleeping and relaxing up close.

20 hours of sleep per day
Opinions differ as to whether the interaction with visitors is harmful to the animals. In the wild, animals sleep for around 20 hours a day. They have a very slow metabolism and conserve energy through their lifestyle after eating hard-to-digest eucalyptus leaves.

"But some close encounters force them to be awake and active for hours. Cuddling, holding or photographing a captive koala causes it silent stress," criticizes the London-based animal welfare organization World Animal Protection. It has launched a petition calling for a complete ban on cuddling koalas in Queensland and asking the public to put pressure on the government accordingly.

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But some close encounters force them to be awake and active for hours. Cuddling, holding or photographing a captive koala causes it silent stress.

Tierschutzorganisation World Animal Protection

However, she replies that the regulations are already very strict and that she sees no need for action. In many other Australian states, cuddling is prohibited, but touching is permitted. "The handling of koalas by the public is restricted to petting, stroking and cuddling, with only one arm allowed around the koala while the animal is sitting on a firm surface," says New South Wales, for example. The regulation has been in force there since 1995.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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