By HALEY YAMADA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — An Australian wildlife park has welcomed the very first koala born at the park since the devastating Australian bushfires.
Meet Ash, the first baby koala, called a joey, born this season at the Australian Reptile Park in central New South Wales. The park, which shared the news in a May 26 Facebook post, said that Ash is a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife.
“We have a very special announcement… Our very first koala of the season has popped out of Mums pouch to say hello!” the park wrote. “Keepers have decided to name her Ash! 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.”
Catastrophic bushfires devastated Australia beginning in early July 2019 and into early 2020. New South Wales burned for more than 240 days, with more than 13 million acres scorched and nearly 2,500 homes destroyed, according to New South Wales Rural Fire Service. At least 25 people were killed across the country, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
More than one billion animals were killed in the fires, according to estimates from January 2020 by the University of Sydney. At least 800 million of those animals were in New South Wales.
After months of blazes, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported in March that there were “currently no active bush or grass fires in [New South Wales].”
As represented by her name, this new baby koala stands to represent hope for the wildlife that is beginning to rise from the ashes left by the devastating fire season.
The Australian Reptile Park, where Ash will make her debut, was closed due to coronavirus restrictions, but plans to reopen on June 1 with new social distancing precautions in place for visitors.
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