WATCH — Koala babies spark hope following bushfires

Story by CBC Kids News • 2020-09-23 15:00

Species on track to go extinct by 2050

For a species that’s creeping toward extinction, every new baby counts.

That’s why staff at the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, Australia, were so excited to announce that nine baby koalas — or joeys, as they’re called — were born at the zoo this summer.

The pressure was on to have a successful breeding season after thousands of koalas were thought to have died during massive bushfires in Australia in late 2019 and early 2020.

Map shows Somersby, Australia, in relation to Canada

Species at risk

A New South Wales government report, which was published in June, said koalas are on track to become extinct in the wild before 2050.

Their biggest threat is the destruction of their forest habitat.

The recent bushfires hurt the koala population, but the clearing of land by humans to make room for buildings or farms is also a problem.

Zoo keeper holds fluffy toy with baby koala perched on top.

This young koala named Ember is being taken care of by Australian Reptile Park curator Hayley Shute because the mother koala had an infection in her pouch. (Image credit: The Australian Reptile Park)

Meet Ember

One of the koalas born at the zoo this summer was named Ember.

The name refers to the “spark of hope” his birth represents following the bushfires, said zoo officials in a news release.

There are now more than 40 koalas living at the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, Australia. (Image credit: The Australian Reptile Park)

Ember had to be raised by a staff member because his mom had an infection in her pouch.

Baby koalas usually spend the first six months after birth in a pouch on their mother’s stomach.

Five fun koala facts  Koala bears aren’t bears, they’re marsupials! That means they carry their babies in a pouch. They can sleep more than 18 hours a day. Koalas only eat eucalyptus leaves, which are poisonous for most animals. They have very hard bums that allow them to wedge between two tree branches for long stretches. Koalas have bad eyesight, but excellent hearing and a strong sense of smell.

Click the play button to watch the baby koalas in action!

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: The Australian Reptile Park

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