Koala-ty Time with Koalas!

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Zoo internquest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

Lisa Townsend, an educator at the San Diego Zoo, works very hard to protect koalas. This week, interns had the privilege of learning about her journey to Australia to work with wild koalas in the Blue Mountains. Australia’s Blue Mountains are filled with thousands of eucalyptus trees which can grow over 200 feet tall! Since koalas eat eucalyptus leaves, the Blue Mountains are a haven for these adorable creatures. In the 1920s, koalas were nearly hunted to extinction. Decades later bush fires decimated most of the remaining population. Thankfully, now eucalyptus trees and koalas are making a comeback. This is why Ms. Townsend participated in the 11-day study of wild koalas in the Blue Mountains.

Researchers wanted to know which koalas live there, what they are eating, and how they are interacting with one another. Unfortunately, finding a koala is an incredibly difficult task. It is similar to finding a needle in a haystack. However, it’s not impossible to spot a koala. When the team did, they would climb the tree next to the one the koala was in and wave a flag over the animal’s head. This would cause the koala to climb down the tree; that way Ms. Townsend and her co-workers could grab the koala safely and examine them. The koalas were given an assessment on eye clarity and reproductive health. If a koala was injured or unhealthy they would send them to a rescue and rehabilitation facility. After the koalas were released, the trees were tagged and leaf samples were taken. Koalas are considered a threatened species. Climate change severely affects koalas, which is why it is important to reduce our CO2 dependence! If you can, try to only buy scott toilet paper because it is made out of recycled paper. Also, remember to pick up trash wherever you go because not only does this help koalas, but all other animals as well!

Lesson: Making your own Koala out of a paper bag!

Objective: Children will use their imagination and creativity by making a ‘koala’ out of a paper lunch bag. The finished product is super cute and kids will love using it as a puppet. Since it is very easy to make, so children of any age can create their own koala!

Materials:

– Paper lunch bag

– Gray and white paint

– Paint brush

– Gray and black cardstock paper

– Googly eyes

– Scissors

– Stapler

– Small paper plate

Instructions:

  1. Begin by painting the entire bottom of your paper plate with the gray paint. Also paint the front of your paper bag with the gray and white paint. Set them aside and allow it to dry completely.
  2.  When your paint is dry, staple your paper plate to the bottom of the paper bag. Cut two circles out of the gray cardstock paper and staple them onto the sides of the paper plate for the koala ears.
  3. Cut slits along the bottom of the ears so it looks like hair.
  4.  Cut an oval shaped nose out of your black cardstock paper and glue it onto your paper plate along with your googly eyes. If you want to, you can also draw a mouth onto your paper bag koala with a marker.

Sarah, Kid’s Corner
Winter Session, 2017

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