SOMERSBY, NSW — Have you ever seen a cuter duo?
While COVID-19 coronavirus has been keeping people apart through a majority of 2020, the pandemic brought two animals at the Australian Reptile Park closer together, sparking an interesting friendship.
While the wildlife sanctuary shut its doors from April through May, Elsa the koala and Hope the wombat became "lockdown BFFs," bonding through the closure.
The budding friendship started when keepers would often put Hope in the enclosure with Elsa during a time of isolation. The two bonded over their need for each other to find comfort and company during the quarantine.
The sanctuary says the pair also helped each other grow and develop into healthy individuals as both had difficult starts in life and required keeper care to survive.
"Elsa is just a bit over one year old now and it’s been an amazing experiencing watching the world love her as much as I do," Australian Reptile Park Curator, Hayley Shute said. "Hope is a little ray of sunshine and we just knew the two of them would enjoy getting to know each other!
"It makes for one cute video that’s for sure! It’s a very special friendship these two have formed and I can’t wait to see it continue to blossom."
And while cuteness and viral videos are always a plus, the friendship drives home a more serious topic for wildlife in Australia.
Brushfires ravaged Australia between the summer of 2019 into 2020, with the WWF reporting more than 12 million hectares of forest and bushland was burnt and killed at least 1.25 billion animals.
The Associated Press reported that at least 33,000 out of the approximately 100,000 to 200,000 koalas across the country are believed to have been killed on Kangaroo Island and New South Wales.
“Elsa and Hope are great ambassadors for Australian wildlife and our wildlife needs all the help it can get. Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on the planet," Shute said. "Our iconic koala is sadly experiencing a large decline in numbers due, in part, to the tragic bush fires we had earlier this year and they’re on the trajectory to be extinct in the wild by 2050."
Now, that the wildlife sanctuary is back open staff is making sure Elsa and Hope still get some best buddy time and are keeping up their daily routine of sharing Eskimo nose kisses.
Take a look at the "Iso-buddies" in action:
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