The next generation of Australia’s koala population is being born in captivity after last summer’s devastating bushfire season wiped out thousands across the country.
The Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast has welcomed the arrival of Ash, the first koala joey born on-site since last the bushfires.
Zookeeper Dan Rumsey said Ash was born in January, but joeys stay in the pouch for up to seven months and it was not safe to check on her wellbeing until recently.
Ash is joined by other new koala arrivals this year at Taronga Zoo, Wildlife Sydney and Melbourne Zoo.
“They’re ambassadors for koalas in the wild: the ones who truly suffered in the bushfires,” Mr Rumsey said.
“Koalas are iconic … and even though ours are bred in captivity, we like to think we’re helping the fairly decimated population.
“Ash represents the start of what we’re hoping to be another successful breeding season.”
Mr Rumsey said there were at least another three joeys in koala pouches at the Central Coast zoo – meaning the Australian Reptile Park is on its way to beating the seven births seen last year.
Mr Rumsey said Ash’s arrival was timely with the Australian Reptile Park reopening on June 1 after two months of lockdown for the public to see.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic to open our doors again. While I’ve been at work everyday, we know the animals have been missing the visitors,” Mr Rumsey said.
“We’re taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our visitors, staff and animals and have implemented our COVID-Safe reopening plan.”