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Your Grandkids Won’t See a Real Life Koala. Here’s Why.

This is tragic.

In the pantheon of adorable animals that children love, koalas probably rank higher than you think. My own daughter probably says the word “koala” probably 100 times a week, and she’s never even seen one in real life. From a beloved stuffed toy to featuring in many, many pictures books, koalas are a staple of childhood. Except, maybe not anymore. According to a new study, our children’s children might not see real koalas. Ever.

According to a statement made by the Australian Koala Foundation on May 10; koalas are now “functionally extinct.” This is because there simply aren’t enough koalas around right now to make another generation of koalas. According to Business Insider; contributing factors include: “deforestation, warmer weather, and droughts.”

So, what can be done at this point? Will our grandchildren only think of koalas as creatures who live in storybooks; mythical like a dragon? Ancient history like a dinosaur? The biggest problem is habitat loss for koalas, specifically in Australia; which is where they come from. Outside of Australia, there are, of course, koalas in captivity. So, the extinction threat is, tragically, tied directly to wild koalas. The ones already in zoos might be safe to reproduce for another couple of generations. But what about after that?

Climate change, is, of course, the larger factor at work here, which yes, means that if you’re thinking about switching to natural gas instead of oil to heat your home, or looking into buying a hybrid or electric car, the sooner the better. I for one, can’t imagine telling my daughter that real koalas don’t exist anymore, except for the ones that are already in cages. But, sadly it looks like I’m going to have to have that conversation at some point in the future anyway.

You can donate to the World Wildlife Fund right here.