Australian Sen. Gary Humphries comes face to face with a koala, an arboreal Australian marsupial, on the National Threatened Species Day at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010.... ( Associated Press)

AUSTRALIA – A koala, a python, and a Tasmanian devil walk into…That’s not the beginning of a silly joke. These threatened animals actually visited Canberra’s Parliament House to put faces to names for Australia’s National Threatened Species Day. – Global Animal

Sydney Morning Herald

Conservationists brought a koala, Tasmanian devil and python into Parliament House in Canberra on National Threatened Species Day today in a bid to draw attention to their plight.

Zoo and Aquarium Association spokesman Chris West said things were looking grim for classic Australian icons such as the devil.

“Australia’s got, I have to stay, a really woeful record of extinction,” he told a news conference.

“Huge numbers of unique, charismatic and amazing Australian animals have gone extinct over the last 200 years.

“In fact, over the last 100 years 50 per cent of the mammal species that have gone extinct in the world have been Australian.”

Mr West urged the public and government not to assume all creatures were “living happily ever after” in the bush, when actually about 150 species were presently facing extinction.

“Imagine an Australia that our children, and their children, are not sharing with bilbies, with rock wallabies, with numbats, with corroboree frogs,” he said.

“The plea from the conservation community has to be to government … to place a higher priority on saving our threatened species – it would not take much.”

Re-elected to the upper house following the August 21 poll, Liberal senator Gary Humphries said much more needed to be done to protect Australia’s most vulnerable species.

“Here in the ACT we have some very critically endangered species, our legless lizard, our golden sun moth,” he said.

“The work will have to go on, have to be focused on more seriously by governments.”

For now, Senator Humphries suspected his friends Winston – the koala – and Patch – the Tasmanian devil – would be feeling right at home in their new, if temporary, surroundings.

“It’s been a bit of a circus, a bit of a wild menagerie in the last few weeks,” he said.

“I’m glad there is a bit of competition for the other inhabitants here today from my furry friends.”