San Diego Zoo Global Launches Mission To Save Koalas From Australian Bushfires
January 9, 2020
San Diego Zoo Global is preparing to send a group of researchers on a trip to Australia's mountainous region to rescue koalas under threat by the wildfires.
The fires have burned an estimated 18 million acres and continue to burn throughout Australia. The University of Sydney estimates that over half-billion animals have been impacted by the bushfires burning in New South Wales with over 1 billion animals dead.
San Diego Zoo Global researchers have been tracking koalas with radio-tagging technology since 2015 in the Blue Mountains region of west Sydney which is known to house the world's most genetically diverse koala population.
"We have been working in this area for many years now, tracking koalas to learn about them and to assess their population numbers," Director of Science for Wildlife Kellie Leigh, Ph.D., said. "The population of koalas in the Blue Mountains have high levels of genetic diversity. This makes this particular population very important for the survival of the species."
Volunteers with Science for Wildlife have rescued 12 koalas in the region and moved them to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney where they will remain until fire is no longer a threat.
Record-breaking high temperatures along with severe drought conditions have fueled the catastrophic Australian bushfires for several weeks.
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