Does it have a distinct flavour because of its diet? As the koala was consumed by aboriginals and the original European settlers, I presume it is palatable. Also, in general, the flavour of animals' meat is influenced by their diet. For example, waterfowl like mergansers which eat mostly fish are notoriously fishy, but canvasbacks, that predominantly feed on plant matter, aren't. Given that Eucalyptus leafs contain such potent compounds like cineole, I'm left wondering if such pungent chemicals would be present in high enough concentrations in the meat to impart it a distinct flavour.

Good question Jim! Most Aussies have never tasted koala, perhaps unlike other iconic antipodean animals like the kangaroo or emu. I can't direct you to an authoritative source but as far as I am aware the eucalyptus flavour persists in koala flesh giving it a distinct taste which is not very pleasant - kangaroo or other meat was apparently preferred by early settlers, and I think most animal predators target young koalas (maybe while they are weaning and before they start eating leaves?). That said I would guess that some eucalyptus constituents may remain in the koala's gut (which also detoxifies the eucalyptus leaves) rather than its flesh. Other compounds like cineole are mainly metabolized in the liver (see and, but cineolic compounds readily penetrate extra-hepatic tissues and likely persist in flesh - at low concentrations they are used as flavour enhancers!

A bit of trivia - Aboriginals had different names for the animal and a popular conception is that 'koala' means 'no drink' because most of their hydration comes from eucalyptus leaves. Others believe the word means 'biter' or 'angry', equally apt descriptions!