The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were delighted to come face-to-face with a rescue koala on Zoom.
The royal couple spoke to first responders and local business owners from Kangaroo Island in Australia to hear about the impact of the wildfires which hit the region in January, and were happy to catch a glimpse of marsupial Grace, who is being cared for at a wildlife park after being hit by a car.
As park owner Dana Mitchell took the creature out of her enclosure to introduce her to the couple, Catherine exclaimed: “Oh look! So sweet.”
Prince William smiled and said: “She looks very well looked-after, I have to say. Grace looks like she has a very nice life there.”
The couple – who last visited Australia in 2014 – appeared shocked when Dana told them that the bushfires, which affected around 48% of the island, had seen the koala population decrease from 60-80,000 to an estimated 5-10,000.
Elsewhere on the call, William – who has children Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, with his wife – praised the “community spirit” of Australians.
He said: “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.”
The couple also had the opportunity to speak with Captain Mike Swayne – who spent five weeks fighting the fires as a volunteer for the South Australian Country Fire Service – as he told them the difficulties faced by first responders such as the speed of the blaze and the weather conditions.
They also chatted with bekeeper Peter Davies, who lost 500 hives of honey, Brigadier Damian Cantwell of the Australian Defence Force and Stephanie Wurst, a farmer, who lost her home, farm infrastructure and half of her livestock.
Catherine, 38, asked Stephanie: “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?”
The farmer told the royals she had been surprised with just how well her children had adapted, praising their peers and school for making things easier for them.
At the end of the call, William called on the group to ensure they had the right support in place, in whatever form they needed.
He said: “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.
“So I do hope all of you feel that you’ve got that support you’ve got someone you can speak to and somewhere you can go to receive support whether it’s financial or whether it’s just having a chat. Please do look after yourselves.
“Hopefully Catherine and I, when the world goes back to whatever normality we have in the future, we can come and visit you all and see Kangaroo Island for ourselves.”