TV show airs ‘sick’ plan for dead koalas
A UK businessman who has proposed selling koala fur to raise money for the bushfire-affected marsupial has been labelled "sick" after making his pitch on TV.
Ryan-Mark Parsons, who was a contestant on The Apprentice, launched his controversial plan on Good Morning Britain on Thursday.
Half a billion animals are estimated to have died in bushfires in the last few months, with koala populations among the worst hit.
Mr Parsons has proposed the pelts of dead koalas could be sold in high-end retailers such as Harrods to fundraise for the animal.
"The idea of this is to raise money for the charities," he said.
"Now it is very unfortunate, I completely agree what has happened in Australia is utterly devastating, and as a result the koalas have died.
"But the animals are dead and if we can use the fur to raise money, to save the other animals I don't see why that's an issue."
But Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid slammed the idea, labelling Mr Parson's plan "sick".
"We're there watching these terrible scenes on our screens, these poor creatures suffering and dying in these bushfires," she said.
Should koala fur be sold for charity?— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 23, 2020
Ryan-Mark from #TheApprentice says the fur from the animals perished in the Australian bushfires should be sold to help other injured animals.
What do you think? pic.twitter.com/7am6lejyao
"And now you're saying, 'let's use their fur'. It's kind of a sick idea, isn't it?"
"Well, I don't think it's a sick idea because you have to take into account that the purpose of this is to raise money for the injured animals in the rescue centres," Mr Parsons hit back.
"I am not going on this debate saying we need to slaughter koalas, in fact I love koalas, if there was a koala here I'd hug a koala."
However people weren't buying Mr Parsons' idea, slamming it as "disgusting" and "ridiculous".
Absolutely not! For ‘charity’ or not it’s disgusting! Advocating the sale of fur for any purpose is wrong. If rich people have enough money to buy fur for charity they have the money to donate without the sale!— 𝒦𝑒𝓇𝓇𝒾𝓃 (@KerrinNewby) January 23, 2020
How about Ryan-Mark comes to Australia and pitches this idea to the firies who have been traumatised after hearing koalas screaming for their lives in the bushfires? Let's see how they take this disgusting suggestion to sell dead koala's fur for charity.— Amanda Perram (@AmandaPerram) January 23, 2020
Omg nooooooooo, it’s like skinning your cat after it’s died!!!!— Joanne Forward (@JoanneForward1) January 23, 2020
According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) there are less than 100,000 koalas left in the wild and the population could be in fact as low as 43,000.
If Australia's koala population falls below 50,000 it would be "functionally extinct", the AKF said.
However koala expert Dr Alistair Melzer from Central Queensland University told news.com.au earlier this month some bushfire-affected koala habitats were already recovering. But they will need to adapt to their changed surroundings in order to thrive once again.
"We have received accounts of healthy koalas surviving the fires in the Carnarvon Ranges in Central Queensland and in some northern New South Wales forests," he said.
"Those surviving koalas will have to adapt in these areas - will they find enough food resources?
"Koalas are dependent on eucalypt for both food and water. With the prolonged drought and heat and now these bushfires the quality of that foliage will go down, which may limit the availability of water, and the nutrient content of the foliage."