It’s OK; ‘koala meat’ was actually bamboo rat, restaurant claims

A restaurant in southern China that found itself at the center of outrage for selling "koala meat" claims it was in fact selling a type of rat that bears a resemblance to the drowsy marsupial.

An Australian tourist visiting a restaurant in Guangzhou’s Panyu district told a radio station 3AW that diners were able to select a live koala from a cage and could choose whether they wanted it "braised" or "stewed."

Distressed by the scene, the traveller snapped a photo of what appeared to be the iconic animal, bent forward and facing downward in a cage, with only a carrot given as food.

But the general manager of the restaurant denied that the animal was a koala, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"The Australian tourist was actually the victim of a false alarm, as the restaurant never sells koala," the manager said.

Another manager at the restaurant clarified that the animal was a bamboo rat.

The Chinese bamboo rat is found in southern parts of the country and is commonly sold in food markets.