(TMU) – After the horrific Australian bush fires over the 2019/2020 fire season, the Australian Reptile Park has good reason to celebrate, welcoming the first koala joey born at the park since the devastation. The Park’s handlers named the new-born Ash, in remembrance of the Black Summer fire season.
The koala population were arguably the hardest hit during the fires, with their death toll estimated to be in the thousands. Northern New South Wales lost about 85 percent of their koala population while researchers are still working around other areas to determine the extent of the damage between November and February. No wonder little Ash’s birth is being celebrated, hopefully the first of many joeys born in the wake of the fires.
Australian Reptile Park Zookeeper, Dan Rumsey said: “Ash represents the start of what we’re hoping to be another successful breeding season.”
“It was such an incredible moment when we saw Ash poke her head out of her mom’s pouch for the first time!”
While female koalas generally have one joey a year, some may go two to three years without having any and the stress suffered during the fires could have a negative impact on their reproduction, especially now, when their population across the country desperately needs a boost.
View this post on Instagram
Our very first koala of the season has popped out of Mums pouch to say hello! 🐨 Keepers have decided to name her Ash! Ash is the first koala born at the park since the tragic Australian bushfires and is a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife. . . . . . . . . . . #thisiscentralcoast #australia #sydneyactivities #fun #thingstodoinsydney #sydney #centralcoast #viral #cute #cuteanimals #newsouthwales #selfisolation #stayhome #animalfriends #australiananimal #koala #elsathekoala #cutekoalas #seeaustralia @australia #koala #koalajoey
According to the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, koalas could be listed as endangered because of the bushfire crisis. Earlier this year, the MP announced a $50 million funding package to help wildlife populations bounce back after the devastating bushfires.
Ms Ley told reporters: “It may be necessary… to see whether in certain parts of the country, koalas move from where they are, which is often vulnerable, up to endangered.”
Half the funds will go towards wildlife carers, hospitals and zoos, who have the people best equipped to lead the re-population and rehousing efforts.
Experts were shocked by the devastating loss of life during the 2019/2020 bush fire season – as was Cate Faehrmann – committee chair of the NSW upper house inquiry, when she saw the numbers from their investigation to determine how many koalas were lost over the period.
There is now a significant and immediate threat of extinction to koalas, according to a report published in March.
At least 5,000 koalas are estimated to have died, according to the report from the global conservation group International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
“That’s extremely shocking and really should be a wake-up call to the government to pause any threats to koala habitat including logging and development in key areas,” Cate Faehrmann told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
“There are so many threats that if we are going to stop this wonderful animal from becoming extinct we have to really, really, prioritize securing and protecting their habitat now.”
For now, little Ash and her mom have set the ball rolling to rebuild their species. May they flourish and plenty of little joeys start popping their heads out of their mom’s pouches soon.