Prince William and Kate Middleton met a rescued koala via video call. The royal couple praised the Aussie "community spirit" after the devastating bushfires in the country this year. They got on a call with local business owners and first responders from Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge heard about the impact of the wildfires which struck the island in January. The royal couple cooed over Grace the koala, who is now being cared for by a wildlife park, after being hit by a car."She looks very well looked-after, I have to say. Grace looks like she has a very nice life there," said Prince William.
The royal parents were shocked as the sanctuary's co-owner Dana Mitchell told them that the koala population had decreased from 80,000 to 60,000, to an estimated 10,000 to 5,000 since the bushfires.
Approximately 48 per cent of Kangaroo Island was affected by the bushfires over the course of several weeks, that lead to the loss of two lives and significant damage to residents' homes and livelihoods.
"It's fantastic to hear about the community spirit in Australia as always, which is what Catherine and I see when we come down there. Aussies are very good at looking out for each other and it's fantastic to see that you're all pulling together," said William.
William and Kate spoke to Captain Mike Swayne, who spent five weeks fighting the fires as a volunteer for the South Australian Country Fire Service. They also heard from Brigadier Damian Cantwell of the Australian Defence Force and Beekeeper Peter Davies, who lost 500 hives of honey, and Stephanie Wurst, a farmer.
"How are your kids with it as well? [You're] trying to manage this with their worries and their fear as well, how are they doing now?" asked Kate to Wurst.
William concluded by saying: "Both Catherine and I are glad to hear that support is there for you all as well. The mental health implications as well as the financial implications on everyone is going to take its toll for a while."
William and Kate last visited Australia during their royal tour in April 2014 with then eight-month-old son Prince George.