Queensland is the only Australian State that still permits the commercial hugging of koalas. Koala hugging is big business. In fact, there is a Koala park just outside Brisbane where, for a fee, you can hug a koala to your heart's content.
For many visitors, hugging a koala is a top priority. A couple of days ago, a YOW participant told me that his wife's only goal in Australia was to hug a Koala. Of course no one means any harm, but there is a good reason Koala hugging has been outlawed in most of this country. Koalas are not social creatures, and hugging is a traumatic event for them. I know I wouldn't like being hugged by a stream of strange, giant creatures all day. I flinched when I saw a photo of Oprah hugging a cute Koala as part of her much ballyhooed Australian tour.
Oprah sure knows how to stage photo ops. We've seen her in the newspaper in front of the Sydney Opera House, at Uluru/Ayres Rock and, of course, hugging a Koala.