The Koala Timeline

2011 The Parliament of Australia’s Senate Inquiry into the health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population.

2010 National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy released.

2008 Australia’s prime koala population of South East Queensland dropped from 6500 to less than 2000 koalas in the last ten years.

2008 The IUCN listed the koala on its Red List of Threatened Species as “of least concern”.

2006 The Commonwealth Government of Australia advises that the koala is Not Vulnerable.

2006 Draft Koala Conservation and Management Policy Strategy released.

2004 The Australian Koala Foundation made an application to the Commonwealth Government to list the koala as Vulnerable across its natural range under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999.

2000 The United States of America Government lists the koala as a ‘threatened species’ under the US Endangered Species Act.

1996 The IUCN listed the koala as “Lower Risk/Near Threatened”

1993 The Australian Koala Foundation and the Ray Group worked together on Koala Beach – the first property to be master planned and designed with the protection of the environment, especially koalas, as its priority.

1986 The Australian Koala Foundation is formed.

1983 The first koala arrives in Japan.

1979-80 63% of koala population died in Eastern Queensland.

1960 A koala is born in San Diego Zoo, the first outside its native Australia.

1949 The first official koala survey is conducted. The National Survey revealed that many southern, central and western koala populations had disappeared, indicating that their distribution was contracting towards the coast.

1937 Public outrage at koala slaughtering forced Australian governments in all states to declare the koala a ‘Protected Species’. This is possibly the first wide-scale environmental issue that Australians rallied for.

1936 The world’s last Tasmanian Tiger dies in Hobart Zoo, just three months after being declared a protected species. (As a reminder, the AKF has drawn an analogy between the koala and the Tasmanian Tiger)

1933 Blinky Bill made his first appearance .

1930 Koala Park, the first private koala sanctuary in Sydney New South Wales, is founded by Noel Burnet.

1927 Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary founded in Brisbane, Queensland, the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary.

1927 In an August shooting season in Queensland, over 800,000 koalas were slaughtered.

1927 1927 People all over the world began to worry that koalas would disappear forever. President Roosevelt made a law against having koala fur in the United States of America.

1923 Professor Wood Jones releases the first koala onto Kangaroo Island.

1925 The presence of abundant food for koalas in Southern California allowed the San Diego Zoo to become a recipient of a gift of two koalas.

1924 More than 2 million koalas were slaughtered for their fur.

1924 Koalas extinct in South Australia

1919 The Queensland Government announced a six month open season on koalas – in that period alone, 1 million koalas were killed.

1915 Extensive koala culling commences in Queensland. Koalas were killed with guns, poisons, and nooses.

1863 John Gould : “However difficult it may be for the European to discover them in their shady trees, the quick and practiced eye of the Aborigine readily detect them, and they speedily fall victims to the heavy and powerful clubs hurled at them with utmost precision… Like too many others of the larger Australian mammals, this species is certain to become gradually more scarce, and ultimately extirpated.”

1844 Robinson links the demise of the Aborigines to the increase in koala populations.

1841 Drawing of the koala from George Waterhouse’s Marsupialia or Pouched Animals published.

1817 Georg Goldfuss describes Koala Genus as Lipurus cinereus. The order of priority defines name as Phascolarctos cinereus which means ash-coloured pouched bear

1816 Henri de Blainville describes Koala Genus name Phascolarctos

1810 George Perry-Arcana : “The Koalo is supposed to live chiefly upon berries and fruits, and like all animals not carnivorous, to be of a quiet and peaceful disposition. Its only enemies must be the Raccoon and Dwarf Bear of that country… The Koalo has more analogy to the Sloth-tribe than any other animal that has hitherto been found in New Holland…”

1808 The first scientific report about the koala was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in London by Everard Home, the first naturalist to liken the koala to the bear. His description was obtained second-hand from Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson, who stated that the native name was ‘koala wombat’, and did not mention the pouch.

1803 The first scientific account of a koala was published in Sydney Gazette. The newspaper reported the discovery of a new mammal in the woodlands west of Sydney. Also in 1803, John Lewin’s early representation of a female koala and her infant was despatched to Sir Joseph Banks.

1803 The first koala to be seen at close range was captured with her two joeys and presented to Governor King. Colonists had sighted but never found such an animal before. Being the Governor’s new pet meant a portrait by artist and naturalist John Lewin.

1802 Francis Barrallier : “Gory [an Aboriginal assistant of Barrallier] told me that they had brought portions of a monkey (in native language colo), but thy [sic] had cut it into pieces, and the head, which I should have liked to secure, had disappeared. I could only get two feet through an exchange which Gory made for two spears and one tomahawk. I sent these two feet to the Governor preserved in a bottle of brandy.”

Koalas Head Illustration - Ferdinand Baur 1804

1801 – John Lewin accompanied two expeditions as unofficial natural history artist, and drew a koala for Colonel William Paterson, the first known depiction of this animal.

1798 European Discovery : On 26 January in the vicinity of Bargo in New South Wales, John Price, who was the servant of Governor John Hunter, made the first recorded observation by a European of a koala. “… there is another animal which the natives call a cullawine, which resembles the sloths in America.”
phascolarctos cinereus history