Animals

Australian Wildlife Park Welcomes First Koala Joey Born Since Wildfires

Welcome to the world, Baby Ash!

Australia recently survived a horrifying season of wildfires — the worst one ever, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. But at one Aussie zoo, they’re looking to the future with a koala joey named Ash.

The Australian Reptile Park announced Ash’s birth on May 26 on Facebook with an adorable video.

“Ash is the first koala born at the park since the tragic Australian bushfires and is a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife,” the park said in their announcement:

Technically, Ash was born months ago. But koala babies go straight into their mom’s pouch soon after birth and stay there, eating and sleeping and growing, until they’re ready to emerge. Ash decided to start peeping at her keepers just a few days ago!

New South Wales, the Australian state Ash calls home, was finally declared fire-free in March after more than 240 days. Across the nation, fires destroyed more than 3,000 homes and killed at least 28 people. Extreme heat and drought conditions increased the fires’ severity during the season.

Australia’s famous wildlife was hit hard by the fires. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that more than 1.25 billion — yes, billion — animals perished.

Here’s another heartwarming shot of Ash with her mum, just peering up from the pouch:

She looks pretty curious about life outside of her cozy compartment!

After about a year of living in — and on — her mother, Ash will transition to her adult life in the trees. But for now, she’s about as small and sweet as can be.

In more good news, the Australian Reptile Park opens its doors this week after shutting down to corral the coronavirus. Social distancing and other safety guidelines are in effect, of course, but it’s a positive sign.

Welcome to the world, little Ash. It’s great to see you.