0220 koala
A Koala joey clings to his mother after emerging from her pouch at Sydney Wildlife World in Sydney, Australia. Debates are raging in the country as to whether the animal is a threatened species. - 

As national mascots go, Australia's koala bears are up there with the cutest. But as the koala bear is finding out, being cute and your country's mascot doesn't save you from the threat of extinction.

The Australian government has been urged by conservationists to add the koala to its list of nationally threatened species. Scientists worry that the animal is heading towards extinction because of disease, climate change and a loss of habitat. 

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney, Australia joins us for today's Mid-day Extra.

As a symbol of the nation, the koala adds value to the tourism industry in Australia. But taking steps to protect the marsupials will also be expensive.