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Koalas Suffer In The Wild, But Get Help From San Diego

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Koala sleeps in a tree-like perch at the San Diego Zoo on Jan. 9, 2020.

San Diego Zoo researchers are doing what they can to help protect koalas, which are threatened by fast-moving wildfires in Australia.

Damaging out-of-control bushfires are ravaging the Australian backcountry.

The flames are consuming homes, habitat and unprecedented numbers of wild animals. That includes thousands of slow-moving koalas.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

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“We have a lot of out-of-control fires around the whole east coast and down to South Australia, kangaroo island at the moment. The fire sizes vary but some of the biggest ones are hundreds of thousands of hectares,” said Sheryl Martin, a Sydney Australia resident visiting San Diego.

The bush fires have been burning for months and that hits he country’s psyche hard.

“The land and the nature is very important to our people,” Martin said.

Some genetically valuable koalas in the blue mountain region have been tracked and rescued by researchers linked to the San Diego Zoo. Conservationists fear thousands of the eucalyptus-eating marsupials have died in the flames.

“Out in Australia they live in the nice eucalyptus trees up in the forest out there,” said Jennifer Moll, lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Reported by Erik Anderson , Video by Andi Dukleth

The fuzzy animal sleeps 18-20 hours a day, and when koalas do move, they take their time.

“What makes them vulnerable is that koalas don’t move extremely fast,” Moll said.

They also do not have a lot of stamina. Scientists don’t know how well the species will do in the aftermath of the fires.

“It’s now going to be a lot more dramatic,” Moll said about the hit the koala population is taking. “It’s going to be pretty devastating but again. We don’t have numbers yet.”


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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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