A NSW animal park has expanded the size of its koala sanctuary to help ensure the survival of the species after last summer's devastating bushfires decimated the population in many parts of Australia.
Symbio Wildlife Park general manager Matt Radnidge said the breeding program at the family-run zoo at north of Wollongong had been very successful through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Radnidge said Symbio was playing a significant role in boosting the koala population.
"Our team have done a lot of work around bringing in the right genetics," he said.
Mr Radnidge said the koala population had already dwindled in recent decades and there had been issues in finding suitable animals for breeding. This has become more difficult in 2020.
"There aren't a lot of animals around now," he said. "We are doing a lot of work with Taronga Zoo.
"We have had to expand the koala sanctuary because we are breeding so many. They are a big insurance population.
"I think we lost 30 per cent of the population in the wild last year on the east coast of Australia.
"That is irreplaceable. If we lost another 30 per cent I don't know what impact that would have. And there is nothing to say that is not a risk."
Symbio Wildlife Park is seen as prolific in breeding koalas. It sends many young koalas to other facilities for breeding to help grow the population.
Mr Radnidge said the national breeding program was well co-ordinated.
"It is all managed by a central co-ordinator who has a stud book," he said. "That means everyone is not running around doing their own thing.
"Any injured or traumatised animals brought to Symbio during the last fire season were taken to licensed rehabilitation facilities such as WIRES."
Mr Radnidge said after seeing the number of animals that needed help during last year's fires, Symbio wanted to do even more.
It will seek the appropriate licence so it can help rehabilitate native wildlife in the next bushfire emergency.