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The great Aussie drop bear

Just for fun, I thought I'd write a post about a great Aussie icon, the drop bear.

A drop bear is a hoax in contemporary Australian folklore featuring a predatory, carnivorous version of the koala. This imaginary animal is commonly spoken about in tall tales designed to scare tourists. Why? Because Australia actually has some of the world’s deadliest animals. And Australians truly are larrikins, so we love a good joke. 

If you don’t know what that word is, then you’re missing out on some great Aussie slang. Here is an extensive list of Aussie slang and their meanings if you're interested. If you ever set foot in the Outback (make that most of Australia), you will hear Aussie slang. Watch Crocodile Dundee and you'll pick up some Aussie slang: larrikin, strewth, fair dinkum, esky, bottle-O.  It’s like another language. 

But that’s not all that Australia is known for. We are also known for our dangerous animals.

There is a common perception amongst tourists that everything in Australia can kill you. Not true, but also very true. I was camping on Fraser Island in Queensland when a dingo snuck up into the campsite. It had not made a sound. I just turned around and there it was. Staring at me, with its unwavering, hypnotic brown-eyed stare. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these dogs don’t like being stared at the way a domestic dog does. Domestic dogs are submissive. Dingoes are wild dogs and have been known to steal a baby. True story. Remember that famous case of the Chamberlains?

As well as dangerous dogs, we have dangerous spiders, lizards, octopuses, blue bottles, snakes, sharks, crocodiles, bats. Some of these animals are hunters, some have deadly toxins and poisons. For example, a goanna bite can cause a nasty infection that if not treated has been known to cause rotting flesh. The funnel-web spider has killed 13 people, but there are 30-40 people bitten each year. 


It’s no wonder that tourists lapped up the story of the carnivorous koala.

FACT: A koala is not a bear. Australia does not have bears. It used to be called a koala bear because it looks like a tiny stuffed bear.

From the Save The Koala website:
The Koala was given its scientific name, phascolarctos cinereus, meaning 'ash grey pouched bear' in 1816. Subsequently, it was discovered that the Koala was not a bear at all, but a member of a specialised group of mammals called 'marsupials', that give birth to immature young and carry them in a pouch.


Other myths associated with the drop bears have included that Vegemite can repel the predator, placing forks in hair can prevent an attack and they target people with accents. Hah. I’d like to see this.


On a serious note, the koala is facing real danger. During the recent bushfires in Australia, it’s population was drastically affected as well as its natural habitats. The koala is an Australian icon. We don’t want to lose it.


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