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'Eat a Koala' Campaign Promotes Business, Creates Controversy

Mar 22, 2011 – 7:30 AM
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Want to succeed in business and real estate development?

Eat a koala.

That's the message promoted by an angry Australian businessman who contends that local government is more interested in protecting cute marsupials than "saving" business.

Queensland local Graham Parker has designed and distributed car stickers encouraging Australians to "Save the Redlands ... Eat a Koala," making reference to his area's wild koala population and struggling businesses.

"The stickers I have been making are a protest against the council's single focus on koalas and lack of interest in protecting businesses," said Parker of Capalaba, near Brisbane.

Capalaba ratepayer Graham Parker's 'eat-a-koala' stickers have angered animal welfare groups.
Graham Parker's "Eat a Koala" stickers have angered animal welfare groups and Australia's Redland City Council.
"Redland City Council spent $193,000 on a koala communication strategy which included a Facebook page and a communication officer, but only $170,000 of council's economic development budget was allocated for business retention and expansion.

"The 'Eat a Koala' stickers are not meant to encourage people to eat the furry little critters, they are just highlighting the other extreme and opposite point of view to the council's," Parker said.

But the stickers -- and accompanying Facebook page of its own -- have unsurprisingly caused controversy in the district with animal welfare groups and local politicians condemning the campaign.

"These stickers are very irresponsible and are sending out the wrong message," said Michael Beatty, spokesman for RSPCA Queensland.

"We're trying to protect the koalas, and I would imagine a great deal of the Redland community would be in favor of protecting the koala too. I'm presuming some idiot who thought it up thinks it's funny, but it's not."

Contrary to wide belief, koalas are not bears but marsupials -- animals with a pouch that suckle their young.

Koala numbers are diminishing in Australia.

Experts have not reached agreement on why, but the reasons have been linked to disease, stress and urbanization.

Redland is home to approximately 3,000 koalas -- the largest urban population in Australia.

Redland Mayor Melva Hobson said the stickers were "reprehensible," but this is not the first time her council's koala protection policies have been criticized.

Council members slammed electronic road signs warning drivers of "koala crossings," saying they were "a waste of money" after regularly breaking down.

The "Eat a Koala" campaign drew questions for its poor taste in more ways than one.

"You'd have to question the motivation behind anyone making a sticker that urges people to eat koalas," said one comment on a website dedicated to koala welfare.

"I've heard they taste terrible anyway!"

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