SOMERSBY, NSW — In the wake of the devastating brush fires throughout Australia, a wildlife park is celebrating the arrival of its first baby koala of the season.
The joey was announced on a Facebook and Instagram post by the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, Australia on Tuesday. The baby was named Ash, and the park calls her "a sign of hope for the future of Australia's native wildlife."
In the video, caregivers embrace the mother as she reveals the baby inside her pouch. The adorable joey places her little hands on the keeper's while staying inside the comfort of her mother's pouch.
The park announced in another social media post on Sunday that it plans to reopen June 1 after Australia's lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our dedicated staff has been working throughout lockdown to care for our animals, and now, we’re unbelievably excited to reopen our doors and welcome you back!" the park said in a statement.
Throughout quarantine, thousands of people have learned about the park's efforts and wildlife through a steady stream of videos shared by the park's zookeepers.
However, while Ash brings joy to the park, a conservation group in January estimated 1.25 billion wild animals died in the unprecedented fire crisis in Australia. That estimate is considered conservative and doesn't include those animals that were injured or homeless.
World Wildlife Fund reportedly fears that some species could face local extinction in the worst-hit regions.
The Associated Press reported that out of the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 koalas across Australia before the fire season began, at least 33,000 are believed to have been killed on Kangaroo Island and in New South Wales.