For those who celebrate Christmas, decorating the tree is one of the highlights of the holiday. First you wrap the lights and garlands around the tree. Then you add your ornaments until everything looks nicely balanced and even. And finally, you put your koala on it.
Wait a minute, hold on. Your koala?
Okay, that is not how it usually goes, even in Australia. But it is what happened to the McCormicks, a family in Adelaide, South Australia. Sort of, at least.
Amanda McCormick came home last Wednesday to find ornaments on the floor, as though something had been in their tree. And something had—a juvenile female koala that had somehow entered their home while they were out.
Koala 'break-ins' do happen from time to time, but this case was rather special! Fortunately, McCormick was wise enough to know not to try and handle the koala herself. These adorable creatures have sharp claws and teeth, after all.
But when she called 1300 Koalaz, the local koala rescue organization, they weren't sure it was a real emergency at first!
Safe and sound
Once the rescue workers arrived, they were quickly able to help the healthy marsupial return to the wild. But though this festive tale has a happy ending, it is an indication of a larger problem.
More and more koalas have been seen in suburban homes and properties recently. This is because the animals are losing their natural habitats—eucalyptus forests—to deforestation (the removal of trees). Crises like the recent wildfires in Australia have added to this problem as well.
That said, more and more people and groups are stepping up to assist these animals, as well as the rest of Australia's unique list of species. Because while it's a thrilling surprise to find a koala in your tree, we'd all rather see these creatures safe and sound in their own habitat!