As inhabitants of the Northern hemisphere, we are familiar with all the wildlife around us. Most of the surface of the continents on this blue planet indeed is in the northern half of it. Most of South America, one-third of Africa and Australia are at the other side of the equator. But that one continent as it is like a very big island, developed its own completely different animal species. If most of those are not so well known by the general public, a few are indeed: the kangaroo and the koala bear. Personally, I like to speak only about the koala, because it is not a bear.

It is a must for a wildlife painter to once in his lifetime portray this little creature before it disappears from the eucalyptus forests of that big island.

It was a great experience to do this painting, which required special fieldwork for the background. The references for the eucalyptus leaves came from trees I saw in California. The koala eats the leaves and sprouts of about ten species of eucalyptus trees. Among the others, some are toxic, but he can perfectly recognize those.

The complicated natural history of the eucalyptus species made me use artistic license. My koala just rests in this tree but will not eat it.

Like many Australian animals, the koala is a marsupial. The newborn baby crawls into its mother’s pouch to stay there several months, feeding on the mother’s milk, until later learning to eat eucalyptus leaves it will ride on its mother’s back until she will have a new baby.

The fieldwork and study for the koala were done in the San Diego Zoo where they have a special breeding program.

– Carl Brenders