Friday, May 22, 2015Friday, May 22, 2015

Koala shows it's cool to be a tree hugger

Published on Jun 4, 2014 7:25 AM
Nur Nuru Bin, a 1-year and 9-month-old koala, eats at the zoo of Planckendael near Mechelen on March 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Australia's cuddly koala rarely drinks water and doesn't have any sweat glands, long leaving scientists to wonder how it cools off in a heatwave.

On Wednesday, zoologists announced they had uncovered the iconic mammal's secret - hugging trees, whose trunks can be several degrees cooler than the surroundings.

Koalas have high mortality rates in heatwaves. Unable to sweat, they use panting as a way of evaporative cooling, but in the wild, they rarely drink and when they need to, water is often scarce.

As tree-dwellers, koalas don't generally seek out cool, shadowy ground surfaces like many other animals.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!