Sympathy for the koala nation

Jim Levasseur and Jim Levasseur

Everybody loves koalas — that is, except the Australians. Those crazy mates from down under have apparently developed a seething hatred of the cute, cuddly creatures that everyone else adores. And when I say “all Australians,” I mean “all Australians not including the Crocodile Hunter,” because he is actually not considered an Aussie.

I don’t know how it’s possible, but somehow he has managed to annoy every person in Australia, which is probably the most laid-back country in the world next to North Korea. I have on good authority from an Australian friend of mine that the Crocodile Hunter is considered an embarrassment to their country; sort of like Anna Nicole Smith and the United States, or Celine Dion and Canada, or Rico Suave and mankind.

But enough about quality celebrities and more about koalas. Despite not being able to sing or dance (or in the case of Anna Nicole Smith, eat a lot of food and become fat), koalas have captured our hearts and minds for hundreds of years. I mean, after we stopped catching them and killing them for their fur in the 1920s, THEN we started loving them nonstop.

The Australians have always had a hate-hate relationship with koalas, though, which dates back (I am not making this up!) to their civil war in 1933 when the koalas took the side of the New Zealanders and squared off against the Australian kangaroos in a battle for control of the nation’s kiwi supply. Believe it or not, this epic fight was not much different than how a battle between the United States and Canada would turn out (say your prayers, eh?). But ever since then, the Australians have had it out for koalas.

Take, for example, this recent story from CBS News: Australian officials announced several days ago that they were going to spend $358,000 to plant contraceptives in over 2,000 koalas. Now, I realize that every once in a while someone comes up with an absolutely amazing idea that makes us go “Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?”

This is not one of those ideas.

In fact, it may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, and that’s before I learned that koalas are an endangered species. I know the Australians are on the bottom of the world and their toilets swirl the other way, but how could any sane person decide that stopping an endangered species from reproducing is a good thing? I could think of thousands of different uses for those contraceptives, most of them involving Liza Minelli and her husband David Gest.

The Australians might as well just take a gun and shoot the koalas, because those defenseless animals have no chance at surviving now. While they’re at it, the Aussies should go up to China and get rid of the world’s panda population; I’ve never liked pandas anyway.

I know what you’re thinking, but this is all true! I can’t possibly make up stuff this absurd, and CBS News wouldn’t dare try. I mean, they haven’t exactly been what you might call “reliable” lately, but sometimes in journalism trivial things like “accuracy” and “telling the truth” get in the way of great stories, and we just have to accept that sometimes certain people (Dan Rather) will stretch the truth a little (lie through their teeth) just to get the biggest scoop (get laid).

This contraceptive idea is not alone; Australians have a long history of hating on the furry little dudes. For example, 45 miles off the south coast of Australia lies Kangaroo Island, where thousands of koalas were “introduced” nearly 100 years ago. Despite the fact that 80 percent of the eucalyptus trees in Australia have been destroyed to make room for cities, some Australians have complained that the hungry koalas have deforested nearly the entire island. It’s not enough to banish the koalas to some tiny island in the middle of nowhere; now they have to complain that the koalas are actually trying to survive.

Does any more need to be said? I rest my case — we must invade Australia to remedy this great injustice. If that doesn’t work, at least we’ll have a nice fur coat.

No animals were harmed in the writing of this column, but if they were, it’s their own fault. Send your comments to [email protected].