3 min read

Baby Koala Clings To Teddy Bear As People Decide Whether To Kill Her Mom

Separated from her mother, the young koala hugged a stuffed animal that Australian officials had given her. They were deciding whether to kill her mom, or release them back into the wild together.

Local journalist Neary Ty tweeted the photo as she reported on Cape Otway's koala cull that took the lives of 700 koalas in 2013 and 2014.

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After inspecting the mother koala, officials determined the healthy mother and her young joey could return to the wild. But before releasing her, they injected her with a hormonal contraceptive, in an effort to decrease the future koala population.

Sadly, not all the koalas who came into contact with the authorities were so lucky. Of the 70 koalas inspected in the first few days of this recent two-week sweep, 10 koalas were euthanized.

"The intervention was necessary to prevent suffering of koalas because they weren't able to find enough food," Victorian environment minister Lisa Neville told RT in March when news of the secret cull first broke.

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In relation to their current food supply in Cape Otway, koalas are indeed overpopulated. However, that area's population surge doesn't accurately represent the status of koalas in all of Australia, where the species has had a "vulnerable" conservation status since 2012.

The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there could be between 43,000 and 100,000 koalas in Australia, and they've urged the government to change the koala's status to "critically endangered" in one region of the country.

Outside of Cape Otway, koalas face life-threatening challenges such as traffic, pesticides, development and mining for coal.

While the cull may make more food available for surviving koalas, it also kills off even more of the already-threatened species - two ideas that seem at odds with one another.

Learn more about how you can help koala conservation efforts.