Elsa the koala and Hope the wombat joey spent two months in isolation together during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down

By Ashley Boucher
June 08, 2020 11:52 PM
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Hope the wombat and Elsa the koala
The Australian Reptile Park

What do you get when you put a wombat and a koala together for two months? BFFs!

The Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales recently reopened to the public after being closed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — but while it was closed, two unlikely animals were paired together and quickly bonded.

Elsa the koala and Hope the wombat joey "bonded during isolation and are now the best of friends," the park said in the caption accompanying a YouTube video of the two furry friends. The park added that the pair are "the cutest best friends we have ever seen."

The animals are "great ambassadors for Australian wildlife," said Hayley Shute, the park's curator, Fox35 reported.

"Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on the planet," Shute said, according to the outlet. "Our iconic koala is sadly experiencing a large decline in numbers due, in part, to the tragic bush fires we had earlier this year and they’re on the trajectory to be extinct in the wild by 2050."

While wombats and koalas have some similarities — they are both nocturnal mammals, for instance — they do have several distinctions. One main distinction is that koalas eat eucalyptus leaves exclusively and spend most of their time in trees, but wombats eat different types of grasses, plants and roots. Wombats also are ground dwellers and seek shelter in burrows.

Additionally, Koalas are classified as vulnerable to extinction, according to National Geographic, and their population is decreasing. The bushfires that ravaged Australia earlier this year wiped out much of their natural habitats and killed more than 5,000 of the marsupials, according to a report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare in March.

Meanwhile, common wombats have been given a "least concern" classification and their population is currently stable, according to National Geographic.