In Australia's eucalyptus forests live one of the country’s most iconic animals – the koala. These bear-like creatures may be universally loved, but their population is declining. To save them, we need to understand their ways.

Koalas are born weighing as little as a gram. Being marsupials, mothers protect and feed their young within the protective space of their pouch. After six months, the joeys emerge from their safe haven to spend another six months on their mother’s backs. Once mature, koalas make their homes in the trees. Rough pads on their feet and palms allow them to navigate the branches, while hardy cartilage at the end of their spine helps them sit comfortably up on the boughs.

In the treetops, koalas live out their days eating and sleeping. They fall into a deep slumber for up to 18 hours at a time. Their sole food source is eucalyptus leaves. While they can consume one kilogram of leaves a day, they’re fussy eaters. Koalas devour less than 50 of 300 eucalyptus species, but their chosen diet provides them with enough nutrients. Along with their leafy meals, they keep hydrated by licking moisture on trees.

Due to deforestation, wildfires, and habitat loss, koalas are being forced to spend more time in unknown territory – the ground. Here, they’re vulnerable to traffic and dog attacks. It’s now estimated that less than 100 000 remain in the wild. However, there are organisations dedicated to saving this species, including the Australian Koala Foundation. With an effort to keep these creatures in the trees, koalas stand a fighting chance.