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Orphaned baby koala cuddles stuffed animal after losing mom

by Rebekah Lowin / / Source: TODAY

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One baby koala has become an overnight celebrity after photos of him surfaced cuddling a stuffed toy.

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Sadly, there's a bit more to the story than just pure sweetness. Shayne, the koala in question, is holding tight to the toy as a coping mechanism because he's just lost his mother.

 Shayne lost his mother to a car accident. Ben Beaden / Australia Zoo

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According to the Australia Zoo, Shayne is just one of many victims of trauma season, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital's busiest time of year. From August through February, animals are particularly vulnerable to accidental death, since they tend to move around more during that time and often end up in urban areas.

 “It’s very fortunate that we had an observant rescuer who found Shayne and brought him in to us because he wouldn’t have lasted even a day in the wild by himself at his young age," said the director of the hospital. Ben Beaden / Australia Zoo

Little Shayne and his mother fell prey to the dangers of more populated areas. Shayne's mother was fatally hit by a car, and rescuers arriving at the scene noticed she had been lactating. Shayne was found a short distance away, and brought to the hospital.

 The hospital hopes to release Shayne back into the wild once he's recovered and picked up necessary social and survival skills. Ben Beaden / Australia Zoo

“Shayne has no injuries as a result of the accident, instead, he’s dealing with the loss of his mum and the vital life lessons he needs to learn in order to become an independent, wild koala,” said Dr. Rosie Booth, director of the hospital, in a statement.

 Shayne has had to cope with the loss of his mother. Ben Beaden / Australia Zoo

“It’s very fortunate that we had an observant rescuer who found Shayne and brought him in to us because he wouldn’t have lasted even a day in the wild by himself at his young age — now he gets a second chance at life," she said.

 Animals are particularly vulnerable to accidental death from August to February — what's known as trauma season. Ben Beaden / Australia Zoo

Though his life will be more difficult now that he's without his mother, Shayne is receiving around-the-clock care with the hope that he will one day be released back into the wild with all the social and survival skills he needs.

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