The Australian Reptile Park has welcomed the birth of nine adorable koala joeys after tens of thousands were wiped out by bushfires.
The animal conservation park on NSW’s Central Coast announced the birth of the koalas on Monday.
Among the new arrivals are Ember and Ash, named in honour of the estimated 30,000 koalas killed in the fires during the summer of 2019 and 2020.
The addition of koalas to the wildlife sanctuary has brought confidence for the survival of the vulnerable species.
‘In a time where every koala joey born is a new hope for the species, it’s safe to say we are all on cloud nine,’ the park said.
The joeys were born as part of the park’s conservation breeding program which saw the birth of seven baby koalas last year.
Ash – who was born in January – was the first joey born this year since the fires ripped through Australia’s east coast.
Koalas usually only have one joey at a time and the babies stay in their mother’s pouch for up to six months.
Australian Reptile Park Director, Tim Faulkner, said it was ‘becoming clear all over the world that koalas in Australia are under serious threat’.
‘A year-long New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has found koalas are on track to become extinct in the wild in NSW well before 2050 without urgent intervention to stop the destruction of their habitat.
‘The inquiry found previous estimates of 36,000 remaining marsupials in the state were most likely outdated, because they did not account for the effects of the 2019-20 bushfires.’
When Ash’s birth was announced in May, zookeeper Dan Rumsey said she was a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife.
‘They’re ambassadors for koalas in the wild: the ones who truly suffered in the bushfires,’ he earlier told News Corp.
‘Koalas are iconic and even though ours are bred in captivity, we like to think we’re helping the fairly decimated population.’
Koala joeys have been born in 2020 at Taronga Zoo, Wildlife Sydney and Melbourne Zoo.
The Australian Reptile Park recently reopened on June 1 after it was locked down due to COVID-19.
The wildlife sanctuary has more than 40 koalas and aims to have this number grow every year.
In the wake of the monstrous bushfires, ecology experts have predicted koalas will be extinct by 2050.
There is estimated to be just 43,000 left in the wild.