In Australia, many backpackers have their picture taken with a koala. After all, it’s part of it and it’s also kind of cute. For many travelers, “cuddling koalas” is on the list, ready to be checked off. It is a unique experience that you cannot easily get anywhere else. However, you can only cuddle the koala for a short time and it is quite expensive. You can assume that the animals are well cared for. Australia values its wildlife highly and has a program to protect their welfare.
Australia values wildlife protection
Australia is proud of its wildlife and tries to protect it. You cannot have your picture taken with a koala everywhere, in certain parts of the country this is not allowed. It is of course not a natural situation: being picked up all the time and being so close to people. In addition, most tourists unfortunately care more about beautiful photos than about the welfare of animals. For the traveler it is only a few minutes, but for koalas it can be tiring to have to pose all day long. To protect the health and well-being of these creatures, there is a government code of practice.
Koala gardens in Kuranda takes good care of koalas
Koala gardens in Kuranda, among others, attach great importance to these rules, so a koala may be cuddled for a maximum of thirty minutes a day. The animals can go about their own business for the rest of the day. Which for a koala often means: sleeping. There is a good chance that they are sleeping when you encounter them. Between 18 and 22 hours a day is not uncommon.
Tourist highlight in Australia has a price tag
It’s a good way to get up close and even feel a koala. In addition, friends at home are made jealous with the photos and the number of likes on Facebook is enormous. With all the strict rules, it is assumed that the animals are well cared for and therefore do no harm. The photo is also a unique souvenir.
But as is often the case with tourist attractions, it comes with a price tag. Cuddling with koalas for short periods is expensive. In addition to paying for park entrance, an additional fee per person is charged to pose with one of Australia’s most famous animals. In Kuranda, this amount is twenty dollars in 2020. Often the proceeds (or part thereof) are donated to the preservation of the environment and the protection of this endangered species.
Cuddling with a koala; fleeting assembly line work
Once you have paid, you can join the queue. As soon as it is your turn, the koala will be placed on your arm and the staff will take a photo. Less than three seconds later he is taken away again. The animal barely has time to cling to you. So it can’t really be called cuddling. It sounds romantic: cuddling with a koala. In reality it is assembly line work. Click, flash, next!
The koalas in Koala Gardens did not seem stressed, it seemed as if they were all fine. The keepers had a lot of knowledge about the animals and treated them with respect. As a visitor you may be unlucky enough that a koala starts urinating (or worse) when it sits on your arm. Since this cannot be timed, it is more common. That is the so-called risk of the profession. Once you have received the photo , you can freshen up at a sink where disinfectant gel is ready.
If you want to cuddle with koalas in Australia, you can rest assured that they will be well taken care of. Keep in mind that it is not allowed everywhere and that it is a fleeting experience.