Is it okay for tourists to hug koalas, if it helps to fund efforts to protect them?

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10th July 2024

An Australian animal sanctuary has pulled the plug on cuddly koala hugs.

The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland, says that, nowadays, visitors are more interested in spending time up close to the famous Aussie animals, without holding them.

In the past, famous faces have visited Lone Pine to snag a selfie with a koala, including Taylor Swift back in 2009.

However, animal rights groups say that human hugs are cruel and stress koalas out because they prefer their own space. Holding koalas is legal in only two out of Australia’s six states.

The late, great Aussie wildlife warrior, Steve Irwin, once said that close-up encounters can be a good thing, though.

“When people touch an animal, the animal touches their heart. And, instantly, we’ve won them over to the conservation (protection) of that species,” he said.

Koala numbers are falling in the wild due to bush fires, drought and disease.

Is it okay for tourists to hug koalas, if it helps to fund efforts to protect them?

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