The Australian woman who ran back into a bushfire to save a koala’s life has been reunited with her furry pal at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Toni Doherty became a hero amongst animal lovers after she quite literally gave the shirt off her back to help the scorched and wailing creature, who had become caught up in the raging bush fires of Port Macquarie.
Now, the grandmother of seven has been reunited with the koala as he recovers in hospital. Named ‘Lewis’ after one of her grandsons, the sweet animal is said to be badly hurt with a long road to recovery ahead.
You can watch the reunion for yourself below:
Upon her arrival at the koala hospital, Toni was embraced by a staff member, who referred to her as a ‘legend’.
And indeed, it is a fitting description. People from all across the world have been deeply touched by the footage of Toni’s selfless act of kindness towards an animal in peril.
Recalling the moment she risked her own life to give Lewis a chance of survival, Toni told 9News:
It was vulnerable, all I could think to do was to try and rescue him.
We just jumped out and I knew I needed to put something around him as I ran to the tree so I just took off my shirt and covered him with it and tried to get him out of the fire.
He just went straight into the flames, and I just jumped out of the car and went straight to him.
[…] It’s just natural instinct. I knew if we didn’t get him down, from the tree then he would be up there amongst the flames.
Toni spoke of the ‘special bond’ she felt with Lewis, recalling she ‘instant reaction’ she had to go and save the creature from the raging fire.
Lewis is currently being closely monitored by staff at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, a specialist koala facility close to where he was found. Sadly, he is said to have fared worse than other koalas at the centre, with his life still hanging in the balance.
Lewis, who is said to be an older koala, has unfortunately been badly burnt. He was given fluid overnight, and medical staff have wrapped his scorched paws up in bandages
A spokesperson from the hospital said Lewis currently has a ’50-50′ chance of survival:
His feet are completely burnt and he has burns to his chest and stomach. He has been bandaged and given antibiotics but will take a lot of looking after, if he pulls through.
Despite being so poorly, Lewis has still managed to dine on some eucalyptus leaves. There is a chance he may have been too badly injured to be returned to the wild though, meaning he may well enter the centre’s breeding program.
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.
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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.