Baby koalas return hope to Australia’s wildlife

Breeding programs are hugely important after last year's tragic wildfires
baby koalas Koala babies, called joeys, are very important to saving this species. (Photo 113292865 © - Dreamstime.com)


How are you doing out there, everyone? Just checking in—it's what friends do!

Because as much as we're all doing our best, it feels safe to say that 2020 has been a tough year for all of us. That's why we're really excited to share some good—and cute—news with you!

Baby koalas! Nine of them!

Now let's be clear. You don't need to be in the middle of a difficult year to appreciate koala babies. But these ones take on extra significance because of how 2020 has gone. And for once, we're not talking about COVID-19.

This story of about getting Australia's unique wildlife back on track after one of its most challenging years ever.

Bushfire tragedy

Embed from Getty Images

A volunteer returns a koala to the wild on September 14 after its original home had been burned down by bushfires. Koalas depend on eucalyptus forests to live. (Getty Embed)

Before COVID, the world's attention was focused on Australia and its tragic bushfires. Like many countries, Australia has a natural—and even essential—wildfire season every year. But by November 2019, fires there were burning out of control. And by January 2020, they were at levels that left the entire country struggling to fight back.

Particularly its unique wildlife.

And while all of the wildlife in Australia is precious and was under threat, the plight of koalas was especially sad. These slow-moving marsupials spend most of their lives in trees. The bushfires left many of them with no place to run—others that did manage to escape still lost their habitat.

The events led to the country increasing its focus on koala sanctuaries and rescues. The species needed help to recover. Enter the nine new baby koalas born at the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, Australia!

It's a start

Embed from Getty Images

Zookeeper Hayley holds Ember, one of the nine joeys born at the Australian Reptile Park. (Getty Embed)

The nine joeys (the term for the babies of many marsupials, such as kangaroos and wallabies) were born during this Australian winter (which is the summer in North America). This is a terrific number for the sanctuary, as koalas are famously slow breeding animals and don't always produce a lot of offspring in captivity.

One of the babies born was named Ember, which represents a spark of hope for the endangered species. You can meet Ember, as well as all eight of his siblings, in the video below. Get ready for some extreme cuteness!

Addressing the fires

Speaking of sparks, Australia still has issues with bushfires to deal with. The new season has begun quietly, with experts and fire crews on high alert after last season and eager to apply the lessons that they've learned.

As in California and much of the western U.S. though, there is only so much that firefighting and forest management (how the forests are cleaned and maintained) can do to prevent these massive fires. Climate change is making these places hotter, drier, windier—the ideal mix for disastrous firestorms. Activists and experts around the world are working to get governments to address these problems by changing how we make energy, travel, get our food, and more.


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