Pop the champagne and put on your teeny-tiny party hats: a small furry marsupial has been brought back from the brink of extinction. The eastern barred bandicoot has had its conservation status downgraded from “extinct in the wild” to “endangered.” An international first, the successful reintroduction of the species back into the wild was celebrated by officials in the Australian state of Victoria Wednesday. Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said that Zoos Victoria will happily shutter its captive bandicoot breeding program.
An effort three decades in the making, the program has allowed the population of wild bandicoots to leap from 150 to 1,500 animals. The organization began raising the little creatures on predator-free sites after their numbers plunged in the 1980s due to habitat destruction, foxes, and feral cats. A threatened species biologist with Zoos Victoria described the outcome as “phenomenal.”