Koalas rescued from path of raging bushfire

AgenciesUpdated: Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 10:49 PM IST
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This handout photo taken and released on December 17, 2019 by the Taronga Zoo shows rescued koalas in its temporary shelter at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. | Photo by Handout / TARONGA ZOO / AFP

Sydney: A dozen koalas have been rescued from the path of bushfires raging near Sydney, conservationists said Tuesday, as devastating blazes increasingly encroach on critical habitat. Rescuers scaled trees this week to retrieve three adult males, five adult females and four joeys, whose habitat is under threat from a fire burning across 140,000 hectares in the Blue Mountains.

The koalas have been relocated to Sydney's Taronga Zoo until it is safe to return them back into the wild.

"We are committed to caring for these important koalas to ensure some of this vital genetic diversity from the Blue Mountains can be preserved and that the future of this iconic species is secured," said the zoo's conservation society director Nick Boyle. At least three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of land burned this bushfire season, with huge swathes of the creature's habitat destroyed.

Dozens of koalas have been rescued in the past few months but hundreds more of the animals are feared to have died in the fires.

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