Australian Reptile Park welcomes birth of Ash the koala just days before reopening

Popular tourist attraction the Australian Reptile Park has welcomed its first koala joey to be born since the summer's catastrophic bushfires devastated the country.

As the first koala joey to emerge from her mother's pouch this year - aptly named 'Ash' - the zoo sees her as a sign of hope for the future of Australia's native wildlife.

The park has been closed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and staff are well aware of who visitors will want to see when it reopens in early June.

"We're absolutely ecstatic to open our doors again and we know that the animals have been missing the visitors and we have implemented our COVID-Safe reopening plan," zookeeper Dan Rumsey said.

It's still not known just how many koalas were lost during the fires that spread across New South Wales and Victoria in December and January.

"Ash represents the start of what we're hoping to be another successful breeding season. Last year, we had seven healthy koala joeys and we're very keen to help bolster their numbers after wild populations were ravaged during the horrific bushfire season," Rumsey said. 

The Australian Reptile Park which is located 60 minutes from Sydney and reopens on Monday.