Five Koalas Returned Home For First Time Since Devastating Australian Bushfires
Jed, Scully, Billa, Gulu and Yellow were removed from the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Canberra after fire ravaged more than 2.5 million acres across the country, killing billions of animals and 34 people.
The koalas were among many of the animals taken to safety during the bushfires, and were taken to the Australian National University specialist Endangered Species quarters just before the Orroral Valley bushfire burned through 22% of the reserve.
But on Thursday, they finally returned home:
ACT Parks and Conservation Service said in a Facebook post it had welcomed its koala family into a brand-new enclosure on Thursday, July 9, in the Eucalyptus Forest at the nature reserve.
‘Our hearts melted watching them explore the new gumtree furniture,’ the post read. ‘You can now come see them playing, snoozing or snacking in their new digs all day long. A new viewing platform, clear fencing and seating have also been installed.’
Wildlife team leader Dr Sarah May said the koalas knew exactly where they were when they returned home, and were very happy to be there. ‘Everything’s just coming back to normal,’ she said.
Dr May continued, as per 9News:
It’s midway through the year and we’re still getting our animals back so it’s just this feeling that we’re finally moving forward. We are getting back to a sense of normality.
The good news doesn’t stop there either; the koalas returned to the reserve with an extra family member in toe, with Yellow having given birth to a new joey while away from the reserve.
The joey is estimated to be around three months old and so is expected to emerge from Yellow’s pouch in the next couple of months. Newborn koalas don’t poke their heads out until around five or six months, and that’s when conservationists will know whether it’s a boy or girl.
Not only that, but because Dr May said the koalas ‘don’t have any trouble breeding’ as they’re ‘really, really healthy’, Scully might also have a new addition in her pouch.
ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman encouraged Canberrans to visit the animals in their home, saying that while the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has now reopened to visitors, the nearby Namadgi National Park is still closed while they work to clear the bushfire damage.
‘We saw the habitat loss and the loss of animals as well, so it’s wonderful to be able to see these animals return here,’ Gentleman said, adding that other animals such as rock wallabies, corroboree frogs and platypus have also returned.
Other animals are slowly being returned to the park following its partial rebuild.
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CreditsACT Parks and Conservation Service/Facebook and 1 other
ACT Parks and Conservation Service/Facebook