A koala joey who had a tough start to life has bounced back to health thanks to the expert care of The Australian Reptile Park's resident koala whisperer.
Hayley Shute, the curator of the park, has been caring for the joey - dubbed Elsa - after keepers were forced to intervene and retrieve the little one from her mother, Irene, who had experienced mastitis.
Irene's mastitis meant Elsa was not getting the milk she needed to grow and survive.
"Both mum and bub are doing amazingly in care and will be reunited in no time," Ms Shute said.
Ms Shute and her family recently returned from a trip to Disneyworld and it was the first name her daughters suggested for the bundle of joy.
Fittingly, Elsa loves warm hugs and pops her head out of the pouch each time Ms Shute's daughters watch the movie Frozen.
Ms Shute is no stranger to nursing koala joeys, however being a mother of three children herself means that she had been challenged in juggling the duties between her human and fur babies.
"Koala joeys require 24 hours of care, supervision and seven bottles of a special milk formula a day," Ms Shute said.
"I can't tell you the last time I've had a proper night's sleep.
"Elsa will feed from the bottle from the next 4 to 6 months until she becomes independent enough to eat eucalyptus leaves. Once she is strong enough, she will be reunited with her mum Irene and be introduced to our koala family here at the Australian Reptile Park."
Elsa is a part of this year's breeding of seven koala joeys (dubbed the Lucky Seven). The other six joeys are on display at the park and can be seen snuggling with their mums.
Irene is in veterinary care and is expected to make a full recovery.
Elsa is a true sign of hope and will act as an ambassador for the koala.
"At the current rate of decline, koalas are on track to become completely extinct by 2050," Ms Shute said.
Koala numbers have plummeted by a third in the 20 years between 1990 and 2010 due to habitat destruction, deforestation, fragmentation, cars and dogs.
The Australian Reptile Park is a hands-on zoo located in the natural bush setting of Somersby on the Central Coast.
Visitors enjoy live shows, themed exhibits, and interaction with many of the wildlife sanctuary's residents.
The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm, with free parking and barbecue facilities.