I had the fortune to travel to Australia with Hiram College in 1999. We spent 3 months touring the eastern half of the continent, traveling in a motorcoach complete with a modern day chuck wagon trailing behind. What a trip. I even created a website all about it, and it really hasn't been touched since 1999. Go there soon, because Yahoo! is eliminating their free Geocities hosting. Although it was ten years ago, whenever I visit the Australia area at the Columbus Zoo, I'm brought right back to the home of Kangaroos and Koalas.
The kangaroo pictured is one of the big reds, Macropus rufus, which live in the interior of the country. Reds are so common that many people in the outback place large metal bars across the fronts of their cars, almost like an old cow catcher, to protect their cars from collision. Our bus hit several on our trip, unfortunately.
A much more rare Aussie animal, and one that I never saw in the wild was the Koala, Phascolarctos cinereus. Koalas are from the forested regions of southeastern Australia. We did see them in sanctuaries, but we didn't spend enough time in the forested regions to see any wild populations. The history of Koala-human interactions is quite interesting- during the 19th and early 20th centuries, koalas were hunted for their fur, and eventually large culling programs were initiated. Hard to believe that such a cute and cuddly looking creature has had such a complex history with people.
Oh yeah, back to my title. The Aussies really do greet each other with "G'day". It's not just a joke or a stereotype. Here in America, guys like me talk about our friends or buddies, but if you're an Aussie and you're about to go have a VB (Victoria Bitter, great beer, extremely rare in the U.S.) with your buddies, you'd call them your "mates".
That concludes the images from the Columbus Zoo series. I needed some time away from blogging on Ohio nature for a little bit, but we've recently had plenty of interesting natural encounters, look for them this upcoming week.