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CSI: Vegas Season 2, Episode 4 References The Real-Life Trend Of Koalas Interfering With Crime Scenes

"CSI" changed real-life investigations forever, but the franchise has also been known to base its weekly mysteries on stories lifted from the headlines. In fact, "CSI" was inspired by a murder trial that shed a widespread spotlight on the forensics process in police work. Every once in a while, though, the creators mine inspiration from unexpected places.

"CSI: Vegas" Season 2's fourth episode, "Koala," centers around an investigation to find a group of masked home invaders who gunned down an entire family in cold blood. During the investigation, the team discovers some unexpected clues in the form of a koala doll and a bloody handprint that resembles a koala's appendage. Cue a murder mystery that tests the team's skills and emotional resilience. 

According to Anthony Zuiker, the idea for "Koala" was sparked after he bought a micro crochet koala on Etsy (per TV Fanatic). That said, the decision to add a koala-like handprint could have been inspired by a real-life animal trend that's perplexed some crime investigators in the past.

Koala bears have been known to tamper with actual crime scenes

The "CSI: Vegas" investigators are far too smart to believe that a koala bear was responsible for Episode 4's home invasion and subsequent homicides. However, one scene involving Beau (Lex Medlin), Penny (Sarah Gilman), and Ahalya (Mandeep Dhillon) informs viewers that the cute bears' handprints are very similar to those of humans, so one could be forgiven for making that mistake if it were to happen.

Per The Independent, koalas — along with chimpanzees and orangutans — have been known to spoil real-life crime scenes with their fingerprints. Maciej Henneberg, a biological anthropologist and forensic scientist, noted that their prints are so similar to people's that it's easy for the police to mistake them as such. Koalas have a history of hampering evidence in Australia, while their monkey counterparts have caused their fair share of mischief elsewhere. 

As documented by The Independent, police in London showed up at the city's zoo in 1975 to take fingerprints from some of the animals to determine if they could be linked to crimes. Fortunately, the mischievous marsupials were more than happy to cooperate with the law, and they weren't found guilty of any offenses in the end. That said, some law enforcement agencies will have dossiers containing primate handprints to this day.