Unusual koala sighting … in Australia?

A koala has been spotted for the first time in seven decades in the upper Blue Mountains of Australia, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

A teacher near Wentworth Falls, about 100 kilometres west of Sydney, noticed the creature attempting to cross the Great Western Highway. Bushfires have driven the animals out of their usual habitats. So has the loss of their preferred habitat as forests have been destroyed in New South Wales to make way for farming and homes.

“This has left many koalas living in small, isolated patches of poor quality forest,” according to the NSW government’s environment and heritage department.

Dr. Kellie Leigh, a professor with the faculty of veterinary science at the University of Sydney, is in the midst of mapping koalas in the region. (Residents are asked to report their wildlife encounters to the Great Koala Count.) Leigh was surprised by the unusual sighting.

“If you asked a local this time last year they might have told you there were no longer any koalas in the Blue Mountains,” she said in a statement. “However, during the recent bushfires koalas have appeared on the edges of urban areas, including three koalas coming out of the bush to sit in buckets of water near the Springwood fire.”

Which reminds us of Sam, the koala nearly torched during the devastating 2009 wildfires, who was photographed taking a drink of water from a firefighter as he held her paw. In case you missed it, she later died during surgery for a sexually transmitted disease.

h/t Sydney Morning Herald, Photo Sydney Zoo

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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