First Baby Koala Born In Australian Wildlife Park Since Disastrous Bushfires

We have some good news to warm your heart this week, and it comes to us in the form of a brand new baby koala.

The baby koala — known as a joey — was revealed in a Facebook video posted by the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney, New South Wales.

The baby, named Ash, is unaware of her significance. She’s the first baby koala to be born at the Australian Reptile Park after the bushfires devastated the country and its koala populations. “Ash represents the start of what we’re hoping to be another successful breeding season,” zookeeper Dan Rumsey said in a statement.

The park had seven baby koalas last year, and it’s hoping to strengthen that number this year as the species faces the threat of extinction.

Ash show signs that she’s a healthy koala joey, the zoo said. Ash was born in January but was spending time in her mother’s pouch to grow and strengthen. This was the first time the zookeeper felt safe to check in on the joey. “Ash is estimated to be 5 months old and is right on track to be emerging from the pouch for the first time. Her mother Rosie has shown exemplary parenting skills and we know that Ash is in good paws,” Rumsey said.

Zookeeper Dan Rumsey with mother koala, Rosie

While Ash brings a ray of sunshine to the park, the bushfires that ravaged Australia in the second half of 2019 and into 2020 wrought terrible damage on koala populations.

“Koalas are particularly vulnerable to bushfires as they are slow moving and live in eucalyptus trees that burn quickly and intensely,” IFAW Wildlife Campaigner Josey Sharrad told CNN at the time.

Newborn joey Ash

“When fires sweep through their homes, they often don’t have time to escape, particularly in intense crown fires that rage through the treetops where they live,” she added.

Thankfully, several previously injured koalas have recovered, and been returned into the wild. The marsupials were being treated at the world’s only all-koala hospital, located in the New South Wales town of Port Macquarie.

One of the most famous of the group is Anwen, a female whose photos went viral due to the severe nature of her burns — they covered 90% of her body. She is now fully recovered and back in her native wildlife environment.