In the midst of destruction and devastation, one selfless woman quite literally gave the shirt off her back to save a scorched and screaming koala.
While bush fires continued to rage across Australia’s east coast, one little koala was trying to cross a road close to Long Flat, 49km west of Port Macquarie, NSW. Surrounded by flames, the injured animal looked hopelessly vulnerable.
It was then that a local woman – Toni Doherty- rushed to the koala’s aid. Risking her own safety, she whipped off her shirt and used it to wrap up the wailing koala. Toni then used a water bottle to cool its burnt skin and quench its thirst.
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Toni proceeded to take the scorched koala, now dubbed ‘Lewis’, after one of her grandsons, to the nearby Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, a specialist facility currently treating a number of injured koalas.
The hospital has now treated Lewis but his health ‘hangs in the balance’, 9News reports.
Toni’s heroic rescue was captured on camera, with the resulting footage having reduced many people to tears.
One person praised Toni for ‘acting so quickly and decisively’, while another spoke movingly of how their ‘heart aches for this planet’.
Toni has now reunited with Lewis after receiving treatment for his burns.
Lewis is around 14 years old … he’s well enough to have a munch on some eucalyptus leaves this morning. Is still suffering some serious burns after being rescued from a bushfire yesterday. 🐨 @9NewsSyd pic.twitter.com/OFzX9PqfeW
— Lizzie Pearl (@lizziepearl) November 19, 2019
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has now launched a fundraiser via GoFundMe to raise money for koalas who have suffered as a result of the recent fires.
On the GoFundMe page, the hospital described the fires as being a ‘national tragedy’ which has left a genetically diverse koala population devastated.
As many as 350 koalas have died, with an approximate 75% of the fireground footprint said to have encroached on prime koala habitat.
Some of the funds will be go towards the construction of a ‘Koala Ark’, a facility where surviving koalas to live within a healthy habitat area. It’s hoped these koalas will go on to breed, with a new population of koalas eventually returned to the wild.
Oh this made me sob. To think of all those poor babies suffering like this. Well done to everyone trying to rescue and rehabilitate these beautiful animals ❤️
— 🏳️🌈 Kimberley Cox 🏳️🌈 (@Kim_Cox) November 19, 2019
The New South Wales fire service is currently fighting blazes which cover over 3.2 million acres, and have stated they’ve seen more fires this season than the past three put together. The fires have been attributed to a drought which has gone on for over two years.
You can donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital GoFundMe page here.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.