Sleepy Time in the Bush

“Zzzzzz. I’m dreaming of a warm gum leaf.”

Admittedly, I am not ashamed to say even as a grown man, I adore these “not bears”.  There’s just something so universally appealing about an animal that looks like a real-life teddy bear.  They are just about the same size, shape, and have the same level of fluffiness.  How could you not stare at one, and be immersed in a feeling of utter joy?  They also seem to set a level of civility amongst other members of the animal kingdom.  They don’t prey on any other animal, and no other animal preys on them.  They look after their joeys with the utmost care, and don’t bother picking on other species.  Lastly, they don’t take up much space when it comes to building a home; they just plop themselves on a comfy eucalyptus branch, and voila!  Eucalyptus leaves, as wonderful as they smell, are forbidden from human consumption.  They are highly toxic and are exclusively reserved for a koala’s stomach.  They have evolved among the shady eucalyptus trees, and have therefore built up an immunity to the otherwise inedible leaves.  Koalas spend anywhere from 14 to 18 hours a day sleeping in order to burn off the amount of leaves they’ve eaten.  Gum leaves, as they are referred to, are low in nutrition, and take up a lot of space inside their little tummies.  Therefore, they need lots of downtime just for digestion.  There is, but one warning for those who still refuse to take these critters seriously.  Ever wondered what makes koalas such excellent climbers?  Take a look at their claws!  With a pair of razor sharp claws, it’s no wonder why koalas escape to the treetops; they don’t have to worry about being preyed on by dingoes or foxes.  And no human would dare pick one up in the wild, not unless they want to have a permanent gash in their arm or face.  If you want to learn more about how skilled koalas are at climbing, read Koala Lou by Mem Fox; sure koalas don’t wear gym shorts or sneakers, but they sure are passionate about climbing!  The most difficult thing about the koalas was trying to photograph one.  To view the koalas, tourists followed a short trail into the forest, and then made their way onto a walkway made of wood, sort of like a boardwalk, minus the seashore.  The koalas were high above us, but photographing one would not be easy.  In the late afternoon, odds are they were still sleeping or eating.  Those who were sleeping were curled up into a tiny ball, just out of focus.  And no matter how cute it looked, it did not make for an attractive photo.  Before I could get to the koalas, I had to escape something not as cute as them: the tourists!  Fighting my way through the horde of tourists was not exactly an enjoyable experience.  I tried to force my way through the tree limbs that were their cameras and hands, but it was no good.  I didn’t feel right blocking a crucial shot, but I needed some space to view the koalas, free from the hubbub of tourists going “Ooooh” and “Aaaah”!  After much impatience, I finally found a vacant spot on the walkway.  At first, my efforts were wasted in grey balls of fluff, hanging onto a gum branch.  After a few more minutes of banality, I found one who was snacking on a branch just bursting with leaves.  With his left claw, he grasped a gum branch.  With his right claw, he grabbed a handful, or rather pawful, of tender gum leaves.  He didn’t just eat the leaves, he pigged out!  Like a vacuum, he just inhaled those leaves like they were air.  And the way he held those branches to grasp those leaves was nature in action, at its finest!  After snapping the hungry little koala, I found a familiar sight: the sleeping koala.  This one had a scrunched up face, and a slightly larger bulk than the koala that was eating.  I stood there amazed at how an animal, who seemed to be slightly chubby and fluffy, could maintain such balance while in a deep sleep.  I also took notice of how long his claws were.  There was no way I would wake him up from slumber and suffer a harsh consequence.  Nonetheless, I passed by without making a sound, let alone the gentle beep from my digital camera.

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to Sleepy Time in the Bush

  1. Great shot! I’d love to see one in sneakers and gym shorts lol!

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