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Pictured: Wilpena, a southern koala who died at Longleat Safari Park in Wilts last year.
Groundbreaking research carried out by British scientists may help to secure the long term survival of the 'threatened' koala in the wild.
They have identified a genetic mutation in the marsupials which causes a kidney disease that affects almost 60 per cent of koalas in captivity and the wild.
The discovery was made by University of Nottingham researchers while carrying out tests on tragic Wilpena, a southern koala who died at Longleat Safari Park in Wilts last year.
She had been bought over from Adelaide in Australia with four other koalas last October as part of a conservation programme, but succumbed to oxalate nephrosis in January.
It is hoped the breakthrough will help them to develop cross-breeding programmes to eradicate the genetic mutation.