KOALAS GO WILD ON BRISBANE TINDER – This is more than a koala can bear:
Australia’s iconic koala has a problem that keeps boomeranging back.
Chlamydia, a type of sexually transmitted disease also found in humans, has hit wild koalas hard, with some wild populations seeing a 100 percent infection rate.
The infectious bacteria usually aren’t fatal, but they can severely impact a koala’s health. That’s a concern, as the International Union for Conservation of Nature considers the fuzzy mammal vulnerable to extinction, mostly due to habitat loss.
Young koalas in the pouch also get it from eating their mom’s pap, a “very nutrient-dense fecal matter” that joeys eat after breastfeeding but before they start on eucalyptus leaves, she says. The pap may allow the koala’s gut microbes to digest otherwise toxic tannins in eucalyptus, the species’ main food source.
For over two decades, scientists have brought wild koalas into wildlife hospitals to treat their chlamydia with antibiotics. The downside is that the antibiotics may be altering those gut microbes that allow koalas to eat eucalyptus, notes Katherine Dahlhausen, a doctoral student at the University of California, Davis.
Jokes aside, this is an important issue for one of Australia’s living symbols. And it seems to be a lot more complicated than you would think. Like, for example, who knew that baby koalas eat shit?