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Last Updated: Tuesday October 31 2006 08:54 GMT

Koala baby boom boosts population

The baby koalas and their mums

An animal park in Australia has been showing off three baby koalas born there with help from scientists.

It's the first time the babies - all aged between 10 and 12 months - have been seen outside their mum's pouches where they spend the first few months.

Numbers of the creatures have dropped because their favourite eucalyptus trees are being chopped down and they only usually have one baby a year.

It's hoped that artificial breeding will help the species survive.

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So far about 25 koalas have been produced using this special method, with koalas becoming mothers to more than one joey at a time.

At the moment koalas are protected in some parts of Australia, but the Australian Koala Foundation wants to see the animals protected across the whole of the country.

It also wants the species to be called 'endangered' instead of 'vulnerable', which means they will be stricter controls on what happens to them.