Are koalas bears?
“Dear humans, we are NOT bears”, yours sincerely, every koala ever.
Jokes aside, it is quite a common question. As a matter of fact, according to Google, “are koalas bears” is one of the most commonly-searched koala related terms.
So lets delve beneath the fluffy surface and debunk the rumour once and for all!
A Strange Name To Bear…
Lets be real; if you hadn’t heard the phrase “koala bear”, you wouldn’t be reading this post.
Although the correct name for this Aussie icon is “koala”, they often find themselves being referred to as a “koala bear”.
Despite looking absolutely nothing like their cousins from across the pond, the Black Bear, Grizzly Bear or Sun Bear, we apparently thought that they did once upon a time. **Eyebrow raise**
As a matter of fact, when Europeans first laid eyes on these cuddly munchkins, they decided they looked exactly like bears, and the nickname “koala bear” was born. We think that somebody should have gone to Specsavers…
The Pouch Bear
The scientific name for the koala is Phascolarctos cinereus, which originates from Greek. The first word Phascolarctos comes from two words; “phaskolos”, which means pouch, and “arktos” meaning bear. Cinereus can be translated to ash-coloured or grey.
So there you have it: Grey Pouch Bear.
Koala-ifying For Marsupial Status
A koala is not a bear, but is in fact a marsupial. A marsupial can be defined as having the following distinguishing koala-fication:
Giving birth to pre-developed young which continue to develop in a “pouch”, which is known as a marsupium.
There are 292 species of marsupials globally and the most famous marsupials include wallabies, kangaroos, koalas and Tasmanian Devils.
So what exactly is the closest relative to the koala?
Hint: it’s not a bear
The closest relative to the koala is actually the Common Wombat, which, like the koala, have backward-facing pouches .
And rest assured, a Wombat is most certainly NOT a bat!
Visit Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome and see koalas in Cairns!