BOOKS: Koalas: Zen In Fur
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2006:
Koalas: Zen In Fur
Edited by Joanne Ehrich
Koala Jo Publishing (352 N. El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94401), 2006.
97 pages, paperback. $35.00.
Early in 2006 graphic artist Koala Jo Ehrich produced a
lavish 260-page photo collection entitled Koalas: Moving Portraits
of Serenity, with an afterword by celebrity zoo personality Jack
Hanna, to help the Australian Koala Foundation raise money for koala
conservation and rescue work.
Assembling koala images from 120 photographers, Ehrich
funded the publication herself–and soon found that the book cost so
much to print that she would lose more money on each sale than would
go to help koalas.
As her relationship with the Austral-ian Koala Foundation had
deteriorated, Ehrich regrouped and put together Koalas: Zen In Fur,
using the same text but mostly different photographers, scrapping
Jack Hanna, and bringing the notion of a coffee table book on koalas
down to affordable size.
Even 98 pages of koala photos might induce an overdose on
cuteness. But not smiling at happy koalas is a challenge even to the
most caustic and cynical of critics.
There is a theory that as with “smiling” dolphins, koalas
cannot help looking happy. This is not entirely true. The photos in
Koalas: Zen In Fur demonstrate that koalas doing fun things are
visibly more enthusiastic about their happiness than others, and
that koalas who are close to their mamas or babies tend to look more
serene than those who are alone out on a limb. Some koalas do at
times look worried. Some koalas fight. On the whole, though,
koalas are exemplars of living simply, wanting little.
Unlike dolphins, koalas have never been imagined to be among
the brightest critters in the world. But, when their needs are met,
they may be among the most cheerful.