2020 has been one dumpster fire of a year. The year itself started off with the devastating Australian bushfires which raged on for months. It caused a lot of damage and resulted in the loss of billions of animals, as well as 34 people.
Some of the most affected by the fires were the koalas, who saw incredible destruction to their habitat as well as their populations. When the fires destroyed more than 2.5 million acres, including the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Canberra, five koalas had to be evacuated from their homes.
Jed, Scully, Billa, Gulu, and Yellow were rescued from the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and taken to the safety of the Australian National University specialist Endangered Species quarters. There they were given shelter just as 22% of the Orroral Valley reserve was burned by the bushfires.
But as much as 2020 was horrible, there was a silver lining. Last Thursday, the five rescued koalas were finally able to return home.
The ACT Parks and Conservation Service happily announced on Facebook that they were able to move the koalas into their new enclosure in the nature reserve’s Eucalyptus Forest. The post went on to explain that they were excited to watch the family explore their new surroundings. According to the post, they have a viewing platform, clear fencing, and a seating area.
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Wildlife team leader, Dr. Sarah May, stated that the koalas were very happy to be returning home and were adjusting quite well to the changes. She shared with 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 family of koalas might have been rescued as a family of five, but they were returning to the reserve with an extra family member since Yellow had a baby while she was in captivity. The little joey is about three months old and is expected to soon be coming out of his mother’s pouch in another few months. Most newborn koalas won’t leave the pouch until they’re about five or six months old, so when Yellow’s joey does, then they’ll be able to tell if it’s a boy or girl. The good news doesn’t just stop there. It’s also suspected that Scully possibly could have a little joey of her own in her pouch.
Mick Gentleman, the ACT Environment Minister, has stated that people can visit the animals in their home since the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has now reopened to visitors. However, the Namadgi National Park, which is nearby, has not opened back up yet since there is still work to be done clearing out all the damage caused by the bushfire.
Gentleman did have some good news to share about other animals, like rock wallabies, corroboree frogs, and platypus beginning to return to their habitats. He stated, “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.”
There are other animals who are slowly beginning to be reintroduced to the reserve following its reconstruction work. It’s both amazing and comforting to know that life always seems to find a way.
Watch the video of their return below:
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.