Edited by Joanne Ehrich
Koala Jo Publishing (http://www.koalajo.com/books.html), 2006.
97 pages, paperback. Originally published at $35.00, now discounted.
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.
Regrouped & produced a classic
As her relationship with the Australian 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.
A dozen years later, in 2018, Koalas: Zen In Fur is internationally recognized as a classic of nature photography.
Even 98 pages consisting of 320 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.
The question ahead for koalas is to what extent Australia will be able to meet the needs of this iconic yet vanishing animal.