Chief Investigators:  Professor Delene Weber and Dr Morgan Schebella

Project duration:  2022 - 2023

Koalas are considered one of the world’s most iconic species. The outpouring of concern following the Black Summer fires demonstrated the world’s commitment to this species. International tourists often flock for the opportunity to hold a koala.  Research suggests that koalas’ size, softness and forward-looking eyes are magnetic to us, much like human babies.  Is this very factor, the “koala cuddle”, an integral part of maximising the value of the species from a conservation perspective? The World Wildlife Fund suggests they are a flagship or umbrella species that can help promote the importance of conservation more broadly.  This project investigates how we might use koala experiences to help reduce our carbon footprints.

Project Summary
In partnership with Koala Life, we will evaluate the importance of the koala experience at Cleland Wildlife Park as well as the importance of koalas to international tourists coming to Australia. We will also develop educational interventions designed to enhance understanding of koalas and broader environmental issues and promote specific behaviour changes.

Cleland Wildlife Park can use our project outcomes to enhance future educational offerings.

Our research results will be published in international journals.  A key outcome of the project will be building capacity amongst the community to live more sustainably.