Koala breeding programs help species survive in dire times

National News

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (WIS/NBC News) — With at least an eighth of the koala population already killed in the Australian wildfires, re-population for that already vulnerable species will take the work of conservationists and animal advocates across the world.

“Basically, the animals will not be able to thrive and continue and rebuild their numbers…”

John Davis, Director of Animal Care at Riverbanks Zoo

It will take breeding programs like the one at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s one of just 10 in North America.

Koalas feed on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. If those trees are destroyed, they could become endangered or “functionally extinct”.

“Basically, the animals will not be able to thrive and continue and rebuild their numbers and regain and rebuild their populations,” explains John Davis, Director of Animal Care at Riverbanks Zoo. “They’ll be unable to do that and it’ll be the last number of animals that remain will either be in captivity in zoos or we will be finding isolated populations where they are living but unable to grow and recover.”

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