In the earliest version of Light Thickens, the protagonist succeeds in saving the koala, delivering it to a zoo in the US during the interval between Light Thickens and Vaporous Night. That version was not meant to be read by the general public, but several months after mailing the manuscript to a story consultant, I read a disturbing newspaper article about a koala caper.
A teenage boy had broken into the San Diego zoo to kidnap a live koala. He wanted to give it to his girlfriend because she thought koalas were so cute. Fortunately, the police were able to track him down a few days later and found the koala, still alive, being kept in the girlfriend’s bathtub.
I don’t know if the animal survived without coming down with an illness contracted during the kidnapping. I don’t know what punishment was meted out to the teenagers. I do know I made up my mind right then to rewrite Light Thickens to emphasize that “ownership” of an exotic animal frequently ends up badly for the animal.
The message: don’t fuel the poaching of wild animals by buying (or stealing) them. Leave the wild animals where they belong, in the wild – or in sanctuaries where they are cared for by people who have studied their needs. If you want a pet, adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter. https://www.savethekoala.com/deborahtabartsdesk.html
- Baby koala recovers from gunshots, now on lead poisoning watch (calgaryherald.com)