What do Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin have in common? That’s right – they’ll all have the opportunity of being hugged by a koala during their visit to Brisbane this month.
Koalas from Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary are in training for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be cuddled by the world leaders when they arrive for the G20 Summit in two weeks.
Queensland is the most popular place for visitors to get up close and personal with koalas, and the 100 or more at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary are no strangers to cosying up to celebrities whihc have included John Travolta, Mariah Carey and more.
Karen Nilsson, Head Koala Keeper at the sanctuary says that koalas will have to have time off from hugging duty. “As young trainees, the koalas don’t do any more than 10 minutes, even as an adult they won’t be held for more than half an hour a day and after three days they have to have a day off where they are not held at all,” she says.
Koalas’ diets consist mainly of eucalyptus leaves, but because the leaves don’t contain much energy, koalas must spend between 18 – 20 hours per day resting and sleeping to conserve their energy.
And it isn’t just the koalas who will receive special training for the big day. The world leaders will also be given tips on how to properly hold koalas.
Karen’s number-one tip for holding a koala is to pretend that you’re a tree. “That’s what koalas are used to seeing. When you are holding a koala stay nice and still, give them good support on their bottom so they know they are not going to fall,” she says.
Maybe some pre-summit cuddle time will make these world leaders a little more affable with each other later on.
What do you think? Would you like to see Barack Obama, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin cuddle a koala? If you’ve ever cuddled a koala do you have a hot tip for the G20 leaders?