Australia's best-loved animal is recognised around the world, but not much is widely known of its fascinating history and unique ecology.
Adored for its large fluffy ears, spoon-shaped nose and bright button eyes, the koala is universally recognised and revered as an Australian icon. But it hasn't always been so. After coexisting successfully with Aborigines for thousands of years, the koala was considered sloth-like by the early Europeans and valued for little more than its fur, and by the early twentieth century millions of koalas had been hunted, driving the species to near-extinction.
Yet the koala is also one of the most well-adapted and resilient of Australia's marsupials, described by some as a triumph of evolution. How does it survive, and thrive even, on such indigestible fare as eucalyptus leaves, laden as they are with enough toxic phenols to kill most other animals?
In this fascinating story of the koala, respected biologist and author Stephen Jackson examines not only the ecology, behaviour and history of this extraordinary animal, but also ongoing threats such as disease and habitat loss, and the controversial debate about how to best manage the remaining populations of Australia's favourite marsupial.
Dr Stephen Jackson has worked in the wildlife industry for the past two decades, as a field biologist, zoo keeper, wildlife park curator and government zoo regulator, among other roles. He has a PhD in zoology and has worked extensively with koalas in captivity, giving him a unique insight into their biology and behaviour. Dr Jackson is the author of Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders and Australian Mammals: Biology and Captive Management, for which he received the Whitley Medal, and has published over 25 papers in various areas of Australian mammalogy. This is his third book.