Australia and its animal population have been on the news significantly over the past few weeks, with bushfires ripping through the country at an alarming rate. The country’s koala population has been particularly damaged; the already endangered species has lost an estimated 8,000 of its members and 30% of their natural habitat.
Since the start of the fires back in September, which began in New South Wales, there has been an outpouring of support, particularly for koalas. Animal hospitals, sanctuaries, and general members of the public have been scooping up and rescuing distressed and burned koalas seen escaping the fires.
Hundreds of people in Australia – workers and volunteers alike – are battling the fires every day, and helping victims in its path. One of the crucial tools in this operation is the use of detection dogs, who go out into the fire’s path to find people or animals that may need help.
It was the skill of one young dog called Keli who found a tiny baby koala weighing less than a pound among the fiery wreck of its previous home.
The small creature was rushed to Koala Hospital Port Macquarie where he was found to be suffering from a severe fungal infection. It’s unknown whether he was abandoned by his mother because of the infection, or whether he lost his entire family. Either way, the little guy was all on his own.
Weighing in at 275 grams or 9.7 ounces, he was lucky to be alive.
The staff at the hospital kept the baby koala, naming him Keli after the rescue dog who found him. After treating his fungal infection, his fur starting to grow back and he reached 1kg (2.2lbs) in weight by early January.
In a post shared by the hospital, they stated he is in good health and they are continuing to look after him until he has reached 2.5kg and the weather has cooled down for the fall and winter months.
“Just a brighter moment in all the tragedy in Australia at the moment we wanted to share something good. Meet Koala Street Keli who was found abandoned on the ground on 8th September 2019, in very poor shape with a fungal infection and only weighing 275 grams. Look at Keli today a whopping 1 kg in weight, the fungal infection has gone and all his fur is regrowing. its still early days yet, we will get very excited when he makes 2.5 kg and its time for him to come into the “dehumanising trees ” in preparation for release back to the wild. Release will not happen until the cooler months, and thankfully there is still some good habitat left in selected locations.”
In the meantime, however, there is still so much work to do that the hospital’s website holds a disclaimer at their ‘unprecedented demand.’
It is estimated that at least 1 billion animals have lost their lives as a result of the Australian wildfires.
What started in New South Wales has now reached Victoria, and it is a battle every day to keep the raging fires back. A result of incredibly high heat and dry conditions, Australia has experienced bushfires for many years, but the current catastrophe can only be a result of the rising global temperature and the climate crisis that is set to do even more damage over the coming decade if it isn’t slowed.
Comedian Celeste Barber raised awareness on her popular Instagram page, documenting the true horrors of what is happening in Australia and setting up a donation page. She has currently raised a staggering amount of over $35 million to go towards animal protection, victims of the fire, and fire fighting efforts. While there are many koala success stories like Keli’s, there are even more that need help. Donate here to show your support.
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