Watch: Platypuses return to Australian national park after being locally extinct for 50 years

After decades of being locally extinct, platypuses were released back into the wild in New South Wales, Australia, on Sunday. 

So far, five females have been released in Royal National Park and will be followed by four males in the coming weeks, according to the New South Wales government website. 

Platypuses were extinct in this specific area of Australia for 50 years. The few that were left were brought to Taronga Zoo’s purpose-built platypus refuge and received care before their return to the park. 

"Royal National Park is Australia’s oldest national park and I am pleased this historic reintroduction will help re-establish a sanctuary for this iconic species," said Penny Sharpe, NSW’s environment minister. 

"Translocation is just one conservation measure that can help ensure the survival of NSW species such as platypus against climate change," Sharpe added. 

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Image captured of one of the platypuses released back into Royal National Park in New South Wales, Australia.  (Taronga Conservation Society Australia /UNSW 9University of NSW0)

Urbanization and climate change threaten the platypus population not just in New South Wales but throughout all habitats in Australia where platypuses live, according to UNSW Sydney’s website. 

"Shy and enigmatic, platypus are the silent victims of climate change. While their elusive behaviour keeps them from view, under the surface they are particularly susceptible to drought and environmental change," said Cameron Kerr of the Taronga Conservation Society Australia. 

"This translocation not only re-establishes a population in part of their former range but allows us to refine the skills and expertise that will inevitably be required to counter the impacts of increasingly frequent and more severe climate events," Kerr continued. "The platypus is Taronga’s emblem, and we are committed to ensuring it not only survives but thrives for years to come." 

All of the platypuses that were released will be fitted with trackers so UNSW and WWF-Australia can monitor the success of the animals’ reintroduction to the park. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.