Australia is in the midst of a catastrophic and unprecedented early fire season. As dozens of bushfires rage up the country’s eastern coast, from Sydney to Byron Bay, incinerating houses, forest, and even marshland, one of Australia’s most iconic animals has taken center stage in headlines.
Images of burned, dying koalas have emerged as a symbol of the fire’s devastating toll. “They’re such helpless little things,” says Christine Adams-Hosking, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia. “A bird can fly, a kangaroo can hop very fast, but koalas are so slow. They basically just get stuck where they are.”
The plight of the defenseless animals has sparked a flurry of concern—and confusion. Over the weekend, erroneous declarations