The first rescued koalas are starting to be released into the wild in Australia. The marsupials were rescued from their bushfire-ravaged habitats last year, and have been in the care of zoos and animal hospitals ever since. With the 2019/2020 bushfire season officially over in Australia as of 31 March, rescuers have started releasing these animals back into the wild and, in some cases, even back to the tree where they were found. The first were released by Sydney-based conservation organisation, Science for Wildlife. The non-profit group released 12 of the animals back into their natural habitat in the Blue Mountains on 25 and 27 March. The devastating fire season, which lasted from September until torrential rains hit in February, also razed some 2,500 homes and a wilderness area the size of South Korea. One of the areas hardest-hit was the koala-rich habitats in the mid-north coast region of New South Wales state. But with the fire season officially declared over in NSW as of the end of last month, rescuers in the state have now begun releasing the koalas, many of which were left badly burned. Announcing the move in a post on Facebook, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital described the animals’ return to the wild as “an incredibly emotional moment”. “Their habitat is recovering beautifully with the recent rain and there is plenty of food and water,” the hospital’s post added. “What a journey!” Those released included a young koala named Anwen by veterinary staff. Anwen’s badly burnt limbs saw her became one of the most recognisable images of the Australian bushfires as the plight of the creatures attracted attention around the world. The remaining koalas will be split into three groups and will be released back to their original habitats in Crowdy Bay (South of Port Macquarie), and two areas in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve.