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Karen Oertle, age 11, of Tulsa, Okla.* for her question: _

How big is a baby Koala bear?

A fully grown Koala bear is about three feet long And tips the scales at about 30 pounds. He is a chubby, chunky fellow, cuddled in a coat of dense, silky ash‑gray fur. When born, this cuddly bundle was only one inch long and about as fat as an ordinary pencil ‑‑ about half as big as your little finger. It is not surprising that it takes him four years, about a quarter of his life to grow up,

Koala family life contradicts all the accepted rules for child care. Our sensible parents and most animal parents believe that a certain amount of discipline is good for their little ones. It is also proper for children to learn responsibility and to learn to do more and more things for themselves, Mama Koala throws all these good ideas out the window. Her baby is the most spoiled, the most pampered child in the entire animal kingdom.

Until he is fully grown he does not have to do a thing for himself. He is loved, cuddled, fed and even carried around day and night until he is as big as his parents. Does all this pampering make him a helpless, cranky adult?

Not at all, Koala bears are famous for their sweat, placid dispositions. They never get angry and rarely get upset. Imagine what a cranky adult you would be if your mama treated you this way until you were, says 20 years old.

The Koala, of course, is not a true bear. He is a marsupial animal of Australia the land of marsupials. This means that Junior spends his kindergarten days in a furlined pouch on mamas tummy. He goes into this cozy cradle as coon as he is born. At the age of a few months he has grown a thick fur coat and opened a pair of bright, beady eyes through which he peeps out at she world.

When six months old he scrambles up mama's back and holds onto her shoulders with strong, furry arms. He rides pick‑a‑back in this manner for the next three four years. Mama likes company and spends her time with a group of friends and relatives high in a tall eucalyptus or blue gum tree.

The only food of the Koala is tender leaves from these trees. And, since they do not grow in many parts of the worlds the cuddly Koala is rarely seen outside of Australia. Dinner begins in the evening and goes on during the night. Only the most tender leaves are chosen.

Mama Koala sleeps during most of the day. And you could walk right under her tree without seeing her. She cuddles around a high branch and tucks in her head and paws. She looks for all the world like a round bundle of grey moss. Chances are she will stay in that tree for several weeks, dozing through the day and eating at night.

Papa Koala is often awake and busy during the day.  He may get into an argument with a friend but the quarrel is soon over:  Strange to says he has no patience with his pampered child. When Junior climbs on papa’s

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