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Koalas in a tree hugging
Photograph: Pixabay/Skeeze

Good news! These bushfire-affected koalas have been released back into the wild

Divya Venkataraman

In cute and cuddly news, four koalas and one new joey have just been released back into their native eucalyptus forests after they were rescued from the path of approaching bushfires in January. Go forth, furry friends! Lap up that freedom! Isolation will do strange things to you – we didn't think we'd be jealous of koalas anytime soon, but it's happened. 

As the fires tore through the Blue Mountains region in January and destroyed around 80 per cent of the world heritage area, scientists were concerned about the long-term survival of the species. So, they jumped in to rescue 12 koalas from harm's way before the fires arrived. "[We] were at risk of losing the entire koala population at this site and so that’s what drove us to try something so radical and pull these koalas out before the fire hit," says Dr Kellie Leigh, executive director of Science for Wildlife. 

After their rescue, the koalas were then cared for and rehabilitated in Taronga Zoo. Scientists closely monitored their natural habitat to assess when it would be safe for them to return. Given the recent rains in the Blue Mountains area, which has sprouted plenty of new growth for them to eat, it's been deemed safe for them to be back in the wild. 

While it'll be a long-term effort to promote biodiversity in the heavily fire-affected region, native flora and fauna are beginning to return and the land is beginning to rejuvenate. It's the bright bit of news we needed this week. And don't worry – you'll be roaming around in the wild too, soon enough. 

Here are five animals you might meet on a Blue Mountains bushwalk.

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