In this video How Long Do Koalas Really Sleep In A Day?, it states that

Scientists have long believed that this [1] may be due to [koala's] position as nature's own teddy bear, but recent studies point to a more biologically sound explanation. The koala subsists strictly on eucalyptus... eucalyptus is highly toxic, low on calories, and very difficult to digest... koalas have developed specialized digestive bacteria that nullifies the venomous effects.

What I only knew is the teddy bear is a stuffed toy. I am not sure how this metaphor is used to explain the Koala's unsmartness.

[1] this refers to

Koalas are undeniably cute, but they might not be the smartest creatures on the planet.

  1. They chow down on eucalyptus leaves, which are pretty poisonous to most mammals and contain little nutrition.

  2. They look like bears, but they're not bears. Their thumbs are pure body horror.

  3. And they apparently smell about as good as a college roommate who believes that tea tree oil can replace actual showers...

  4. And they sleep a lot. It turns out that the standard koala spends between 18 and 22 hours a day drifting off to dreamland, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.

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    It is difficult to understand the metaphor. Perhaps the idea is that a teddy bear appears cuddly but is also inanimate, and is popular with humans who tend to look after them. Here with the Koala, the (unscientific, anthropocentric) suggestion is that nature has provided us with its own version of a teddy bear. – Steve Dec 23 '20 at 11:17
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    @Steve thanks, your mention of the teddy bear properties makes sense to me. Reminding me of a probable counterpart pandas. As a non-native speaker, I feel relieved that this metaphor is intrinsically obscure. – Guoyang Qin Dec 23 '20 at 11:34
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    Confirming that the metaphor is not just obscure, but, completely worthless. Ignore it. – Fattie Dec 23 '20 at 12:53
  • There is poor use of English throughout that video. Even just in the portion you've quoted: eucalyptus is not "venomous." Venom is a kind of toxic substance produced by animals which is injected into their prey - like in a snake bite. Eucalyptus is "poisonous" or "toxic" but not "venomous." – Juhasz Dec 23 '20 at 17:32
  • This is a one-off clumsy metaphor; analysing it will not illumunate any general feature of English language and usage. – jsw29 Dec 23 '20 at 21:17

"this" refers to the fact that they sleep a lot.

It is simple nonsense to say that scientists believe they sleep a lot because they are nature's teddy bears. I think this narration is intended to be humorous and we are expected to laugh at this. I don't find it funny and I'm not sure anyone would.

This is really not worth trying to analyse as it is a failed attempt to be "cute".

  • Following the 'teddy bear' part is "the koala subsists strictly on eucalyptus" and how they cope with the poison, to this end, I feel "this" doesn't only refer to their oversleeping behaviors. It's really hard to understand. Maybe as you said, it is a failed attempt to be metaphorical. Nevertheless, when you see this, teddy bears='oversleeping' here? – Guoyang Qin Dec 23 '20 at 11:23

For what it is worth, I think the metaphor, in all likelihood, has to do with the koala bear's "stuffedness". Normally you would expect a bear to wolf down huge amounts of food, but a koala bear on the contrary subsists strictly on eucalyptus, which is low in calories. Nature has bestowed it with the defensive mechanism against the toxins released by the plant.

One should then expect the bear to be rather not bulky (as bears usually are), and perhaps even emaciated, instead. But here the metaphor applies— koala bears are still big, bulky creatures— because they are, well, Nature's own teddy bears: The reasons, instead of being dietary, could be evolutionary or genetic.

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