Darwin, the ‘Pope’s Koala’, celebrated his tenth birthday earlier this year.
After a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Kenthurst Retreat Centre in 2008, Darwin the Koala had a profound conversion experience and developed a deep devotion to the Office of St Peter.
Pope Francis’ advice that Catholics “should not breed like rabbits” prompted Darwin to discern a place in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo breeding program to breed like a koala.
Darwin’s nature oriented spirituality draws deeply on St Francis of Assisi and the hermitical tradition.
Darwin’s laid-back sense of humour continued post-conversion, when the irreverent creature wrote ‘Bush Catholic’ for religious affiliation on the most recent 2016 Australian census.
Darwin’s parish priest at Emu Plains worries that his asceticism is extreme; often fasting from all food except gum leaves.
Darwin takes St Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing” (1 Th 5:17) very seriously; closing his eyes for meditative prayer 16 to 18 hours every day.
Many pilgrims from Australia and around the world make the journey to his outdoor monastic cell, just to catch a sight of the holy Koala and receive his hard sought counsel.
To celebrate Darwin’s birthday, our friends at Featherdale Wildlife Park are giving Catholic Outlook readers the chance to win free tickets. Details below.