Animals

Grandma spots koala burning in fire and goes in for heroic rescue

November 25th, 2019

A lightning strike sparked a wildfire in a forest in New South Wales, torching 4,900 acres. Tragically, two-thirds of that land was home to Australia’s koalas.

Reports indicate that hundreds of koalas likely have perished in the wildfires roaring along the country’s east coast that have ravaged 2.5 million acres. Conservationists are especially worried about the koalas because of how they tend to react to fire.

Instead of fleeing the flames like many animals, koalas do what’s natural – they climb trees. Once trapped up a tree, the poor creatures cannot escape.

Grandma Toni Doherty was traveling along a roadway near the wildfire when she spied a frightened and badly burned koala caught up in the latest bushfire. There was no way she was going to leave the animal there to die.

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YouTube/Inside Edition Source: YouTube/Inside Edition

Toni hopped out of her car, sprinted in sandals toward the rapidly spreading fire and ripped off her shirt in order to wrap him up in it. You can hear him crying and screaming in the video below.

“He just went straight into the flames and I jumped out of the car and ran towards him. Just natural instinct. I knew if we didn’t get him down from the tree, then he would have been up there amongst the flames.”

She plucked him out of the tree wearing nothing but her bra and white pants. She didn’t care. The only thing she could think of was this frightened koala.

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YouTube/Inside Edition Source: YouTube/Inside Edition

After snuffing out the burns on his body with her shirt, she gently trickled water on his burns in the hopes of easing the little guy’s pain and tried to rehydrate him.

“It was terrifying to see him just come out of the flames and he looked so defenseless running along the road. 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. I just tried to get him out of the fire, it was so hot and so frightening.”

Recognized for her heroic efforts in saving the koala from the brushfire, Toni was invited to name the creature. She chose the name Lewis, which happens to be the name of one of her grandchildren.

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YouTube/Inside Edition Source: YouTube/Inside Edition
Toni also got to meet the koala as it continued to heal from its burns and be treated for smoke inhalation. She found him being cared for at the Pork Macquarie Koala Hospital, wrapped in soothing blankets and receiving oxygen. He also had eucalyptus branches by his bed for munching on.
Lewis’ caretakers are afraid that he only has a 50-50 chance of surviving, considering his hands and feet were severely burned. He also sustained burns to his face, chest and stomach. The rest of his body was singed.

But he seems to be a fighter!

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YouTube/Inside Edition Source: YouTube/Inside Edition
If Lewis does indeed survive but can’t heal enough to return to the wild, he could be added to a breeding program to help replenish the population.
For now, detection dogs are being put to work sniffing out the koalas as part of search and rescue efforts. Weather conditions have fueled the fires and some fear they will only worsen, putting even more koalas’ lives at risk.
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YouTube/Inside Edition Source: YouTube/Inside Edition
People have died and homes have been destroyed in the brushfires, too. But when people as compassionate and caring and Toni take action and try to help, hopefully, more koalas will be saved.
Watch in the video below as Toni snaps into action and races toward the koala without any thought of her own safety, only that of the scared and injured koala. How brave she is!

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Source: Inside Edition, CNN, KDVR

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