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Dreamworld highlights perilous state of koala colonies

Dreamworld highlights perilous state of koala colonies
August 1, 2011

Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld is encouraging visitors to cuddle 11 new additions to their family of 60 koalas.

More importantly Dreamworld is also urging people to be mindful of the perilous state of koala colonies across south east Queensland.

Dreamworld Life Sciences General Manager Al Mucci said if trends continued no more koalas would exist east of the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the southern border.

Mucci explained "the problem is about much more than just trees.

"For their habitats they need reasonable tracts of land and, these reserves, they're not linked which leads to koalas becoming isolated, inbred and diseased."

Mucci said the fun side of Dreamworld, cuddling an international icon, is not to be ignored, but the serious side was their "cousins in the wild" and comments on Dreamworld's koalaland blog highlights the outrage many felt about koalas' plight.

Mucci adds "it's been found that the genetics of our koalas is better than that of wild koalas.

"Overseas visitors are shocked that an animal they identify so clearly with Australia is faring so badly, and we want to educate anyone involved with the management of land, from governments to home buyers, that the decisions they make can affect koala habitats."

Mucci said the 11 joeys were the largest number of new koalas Dreamworld had had in six years.

"Of the 11 (five of which are female and the other two male) only seven have come out of the pouch.

"Having more females than males is great for our future breeding programs."

Mucci recalls a sobering experience when he was travelling to Dreamworld past the Coombabah Reserve one evening.

"I saw about 50 people surrounding a man with a jacket who looked like he was in a bullfight.

"He was trying to stop a koala moving across the road to someone's backyard.

"I stopped and grabbed the koala; everyone was in shock because it was screaming.

"It was female, I could tell it had been sick for a while and males had been beating it up and trying to mate with it ï¾ but there was no escape."


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