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Koalas are now considered 'functionally extinct'

There are no more than 80,000 koalas left in Australia, according to a report.
Credit: AP
A young koala girl takes a ride on its mother Eora at the zoo in Duisburg, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. The yet unnamed koala is almost one year old and still rides on its mother's back. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

One of Australia's icons is now being considered "functionally extinct," according to experts with the Australia Koala Foundation.

The foundation announced that they believe there are no more than 80,000 koalas left on the continent, Business Insider reports.

Functionally extinct means the species' population has declined to a level where there aren't enough breeding adults to provide another generation, Fox News reports.

Some of the contributing factors include deforestation, warmer weather and droughts, according to Business Insider.

There are some researchers that are convinced that it is part of the sixth mass extinction theory, which suggests that up to one million species of animals could disappear within decades because of humans and human activity.

Another concern for the tree-dwelling animals is if a new disease or genetic pathogen is introduced. Then, surviving koalas could die off rapidly, Fox News added.

“I know the Australian public is concerned for the safety of koalas and are tired of seeing dead koalas on our roads,” AKF chairman Deborah Tabart told Fox News.

Researchers and koala advocates stay hopeful for the species because of on-going legislation and if The Koala Protection Act is enacted. It is similar to the U.S.' Bald Eagle Act, which has helped protect America's national icon. 

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