Though the baby koala was born in late May, it only emerged from its mother's pouch this week

By Helen Murphy
January 10, 2020 03:43 PM

A baby koala that emerged from its mother’s pouch at a Florida zoo this week has become a welcome symbol of hope amid the devastating wildfires in Australia.

According to a tweet from Zoo Miami, the new joey represents only the third time in the zoo’s history that a surviving koala has been born. A video included in the tweet shows the adorable infant curled up in its mother’s arms.

Though the baby koala was actually born in late May, it only emerged from its mother’s pouch on Wednesday. In a Facebook post, the zoo explained that a female koala has a very short pregnancy but normally carries her baby in her pouch for about six months after giving birth, before the baby emerges.

According to Zoo Miami, those six months are “the most precarious of the infant’s life” and many joeys do not survive.

“It is not until it finally emerges from the pouch and is strong and healthy that zoo staff can breathe a sigh of relief and truly celebrate,” zookeepers explained on Facebook.

The joey is the first baby for 4-year-old female koala Rinny, who has been at Zoo Miami since September 2018, and 8-year-old male koala Milo, who arrived at Zoo Miami in 2016. Zookeepers said that the sex of the joey is still unclear.

Credit: Zoo Miami/Twitter

In their Facebook post about the baby’s emergence, Zoo Miami said that the joey is named “Hope” in response to the devastation caused by the ongoing fire crisis in Australia.

This week, experts announced that an estimated one billion animals in Australia have died from the wildfires, including thousands of koalas. Koalas have reportedly been hit the hardest due to their slow-moving nature and the fact they only eat eucalyptus tree leaves, which come from oily, highly-flammable plants.

Tens of thousands of koalas on Kangaroo Island, a popular tourist attraction that was estimated to have a population of about 50,000 koalas before the fires, are also feared dead.

Zoo Miami said they would also be making a $10,000 donation to the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund.

“It is our desire that this baby koala will help to bring a small ray of hope to all that are suffering in Australia and be a symbol for a positive future for the priceless wildlife that lives there,” the zoo said.

To learn more about how you can help the humans and animals affected by Australia’s wildfires, click here.