A woman risked her safety to rescue a badly burnt and wailing koala from an Australian bushfire saving the life of the koala after wrapping her shirt around the animal.
Heavy winds stirred dozens of fires across Australia’s east coast, blanketing Sydney in hazardous smoke and prompting health warnings for the country’s most populous city.
Wildfires have destroyed about 1 million hectares of farmland and bush over the past couple of weeks, fueled by tinder-dry conditions after three years of drought that experts say has been exacerbated by climate change.
Strong winds fanned around 60 fires still ablaze across New South Wales (NSW) state and officials said smoke that stretched across Sydney was measured at 10 times above hazardous levels in some parts of the city.
Hundreds of koalas from the bush have been killed or injured by the flames.
The woman, identified only as Toni by Australia’s Nine News, literally took the shirt off her back to aid in the rescue effort of one koala that had been burned by the flames of the fast-moving blaze.
A woman rescued a koala caught in the middle of a fire in New South Wales, Australia on Tuesday. The woman took off her top and used the shirt to wrap the badly burned animal. She also offered it water from a bottle. The woman said she was going to bring the koala to a hospital pic.twitter.com/BRBEo0UBZ1
— Whoa Interesting (@WhoaInteresting) November 20, 2019
Intense footage released this week showed an injured koala crawl across a roadway onto the smoldering ground before it made its way up a tree. Soon after, Toni, using her shirt, grabbed the koala from the tree and ran away from the fire area where a man on the side of the road helped her wrap the animal in a blanket after dousing it with water.
Large numbers of koalas remain in danger as Australia’s national bushfire emergency continues with no end in sight.
The rapidly-spreading fires have laid waste to the koalas’ habitats and scorched massive amounts of land across the eastern portion of the country. Officials report that hundreds of the marsupials have died while the fires around the city of Port Macquarie in New South Wales have topped 2.5 million acres of burned land.
Many koalas that have survived have been left badly burned. However, amid the horror, teams of courageous rescuers have stepped up to save the lives of dozens of koalas.
Many of the marsupials have emerged from the bushfire zones with visible burns and rescuers have doused them with bottles of water to cool them down.
Toni told reporters that the injured koala would be rushed to the nearby Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which it was. Hospital officials, in a post on Facebook, lauded Toni as an “absolute legend” for her courageousness and added that the wounded koala “has been treated and is now in the five-star accommodation at the Koala Hospital.”
According to Port Macquarie News, the hospital has received an overwhelming amount of financial support from around the world thanks to a GoFundMe campaign which has raised over $813,000 as of Tuesday morning. The initial goal was $25,000.
The rescuer was later reunited with the koala.
The good news is, the koala is recovering: https://t.co/5W5GOPdinv
— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) November 21, 2019
According to the fundraising page, the hospital initially set out “to raise money to purchase and distribute automatic drinking stations which will be installed in the burnt areas to help in koala and wildfire survival.”
Due to incredible outpouring of support, the hospital has now managed to also put funds toward other important efforts.