'A trip to the zoo resulted in me having the sex talk with my 4 and 6-year-old daughters.'

The birds and the bees was a topic I envisioned I’d be discussing in a few years from now. I thought I’d be having the chat in a somewhat controlled situation, and would be well prepared with my husband sitting next to me so we could manage it as a team.

Instead I was on an outing with my four and six-year old daughters at the local wildlife park, solo parenting, not even minutely prepared.

I scrambled to provide some sort of honest, yet appropriate answer that wouldn’t scar my children (or me) for life.  And well, to be honest, I was looking for a way to avoid providing the answer entirely until I could get home and make my husband go through this with me.

What was meant to be a pretty straight forward day out, looking at animals and feeding kangaroos, took a sharp turn when pretty soon after arriving the high-pitched crying and deep grunts coming from the koala area caught my daughters’ attention.

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Video by MMC

After running over and looking in, we saw two koalas in an interesting ‘wrestle’ of sorts. For those of you who haven’t had the experience of witnessing koalas in the act of love… or in this particular situation, trying to initiate koala love, let me tell you, is a unique experience.

All koalas are cute (which they are also aware of) so rather than pick a man by his looks they actually decide if he is worthy of their love (and their three vaginas- yes, WTF) by his voice. The more baritone the better (it is also VERY loud).

So here we were watching the lady Koala clearly not impressed by her suitor’s ‘voice’. She vehemently denied his advances, fighting him off, then turned her back and walked away from him to furthest corner she could find (he promptly climbed a tree and went to sleep – must be a habit that crosses over species).

“This is perfectly normal,” the keeper who was inside observing and supervising assured us.

“But what are they doing Mum?” My eldest asked.

Internally I said, “f***”, which was in part the truth, externally I said, “they are trying to make koala babies”.

“Koala babies? But how do they make them?” she asked.

“F***, f***, f***”, my internal voice said (again somewhat accurate). “Well, they have to love each other,” I said, knowing that this would never surpass as an explanation (because, well, it wasn’t).

“But she doesn’t like him,” she replied.


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And yes, that very much appeared to be the reality. Her high-pitched squeals, clawing and subsequent koala style storming off concluding with her back to him seemed to be a pretty good indication of her dislike for this bachelor.

“They only met this morning,” chimed in the keeper.

“I don’t get it Mum, do they lay eggs?” she asked, her younger sister listening and watching me for the response.

“No eggs, they make babies a different way, similar to people,” I said.

“From the shops?” My youngest replied. For clarification I had never said this is where she came from, although have perhaps said I would take her back there when she was naughty – totally a joke BTW.

“No, not the shops. The male and female koala have to do a special hug,” I replied. Again, I know this is a pretty weak answer, but I am not good on the spot and let me reiterate, we were at the wildlife park, this was not an expected discussion point.

At that point a kangaroo who had obviously liked her kangaroo mate much more than this koala liked hers (she had a joey in her pouch) came hopping over.

This kangaroo took the attention away from the failed koala love affair and my failed birds and the bees explanation and gave me a second chance to prepare for the next time. Hopefully it’s not soon when I will be asked about how babies are made again.

Have you had to have the ‘sex talk’ with your child before you were ready? How did you handle it? Tell us in a comment below.

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: two goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram at @shonamarion.