Visitor:
Animal Photos - Index
256. Koala in Fire

255. Woman Reunites With Feline
257. Duck and Dog

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

download the flv file


Firefighter David Tree shares his water with an injured Australian koala in a scorched forest near Mirboo North.

Sam's Story - powerpoint slides

Feb. 10, 2009

SYDNEY - It was a heart-tugging scene borne by a chance encounter in the charred landscape of Australia's deadly wildfires: a koala sipping water from a bottle offered by a firefighter.

Rest of the story & additional photos here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29123220/wid/18298287?GT1=45002

SYDNEY - It was a heart-tugging scene borne by a chance encounter in the charred landscape of Australia's deadly wildfires: a koala sipping water from a bottle offered by a firefighter.

David Tree noticed the koala moving gingerly on scorched paws as his fire patrol passed. Clearly in pain, the animal stopped when it saw Tree.

"It was amazing, he turned around, sat on his bum and sort of looked at me with (a look) like, put me out of my misery," Tree told The Press on Tuesday. "I yelled out for a bottle of water. I unscrewed the bottle, tipped it up on his lips and he just took it naturally.

"He kept reaching for the bottle, almost like a baby."

The team called animal-welfare officers to pick up the koala on Sunday, the day after deadly firestorms swept southern Victoria state.

"I love nature, and I've handled koalas before. They're not the friendliest things, but I wanted to help him," Tree said.

Slow-moving marsupials
Often mistakenly called koala bears because they resemble a child's teddy bear, the marsupial is actually a rather grumpy creature with a loud growl. It rarely comes down from the trees and doesn't like walking.

Koalas are especially vulnerable to wildfires because they move slowly on the ground.

The wildfires cut through parks and forests and sent countless wombats and other native species fleeing. One resident reported seeing kangaroos bouncing down the road with flames at their backs.

The fires also razed farmland, killing or panicking sheep and cattle. Television footage showed cows running down the main street of a smoke-filled town.

A count of the animals killed has not been made.

Tree said he found the koala in a burned-out forest near Mirboo North, about 90 miles east of Melbourne, Victoria's capital.

Koalas normally drink almost no water because they get almost all their fluids from the leaves they eat.

After the scorched koala sipped from the water bottle and Tree's crew moved on, animal welfare officials came by.

Koala recovering, has suitor
The koala, which turned out to be a female, was in pain but recovering with antibiotics, Jenny Shaw of the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter told Melbourne's The Herald Sun newspaper.

"She is lovely � very docile � and she has already got an admirer. A male koala keeps putting his arms around her," Shaw was quoted as saying. "It will be a long road to recovery, but she should be able to be released back into the wild in about five months."


Koala Doing Well After Wildfire Rescue
By KRISTEN GELINEAU,
AP

SYDNEY (Feb. 12) -- Sam the koala, the most famous furry survivor of Australia's worst-ever wildfires, is healing well thanks to the efforts of caretakers at a rescue shelter � and she even has a new boyfriend.

Sam, who captured hearts around the world after she was photographed drinking from a firefighter's water bottle, has also won the affection of Bob, another koala whose paws were scorched in the weekend's inferno, caretaker Lynn Raymond said Thursday.

Sam the koala, who became famous this week after a firefighter rescued her from Australia's deadly wildfires, moves around on bandaged paws Wednesday at a shelter in Rawson, Australia. The wildfire left her with second- and third-degree burns on her paws.

"Bob is her protector � as soon as she is moved, he's on the move, too. It really looks like he's making sure she's OK," Raymond said from the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, 100 miles east of Melbourne in Victoria state, where the deadly fires continue to burn. "They're good company for each other."

Neither koala is likely to be healthy enough for release for at least four months, and are being comforted by caretakers who salve their scorched paws every few hours.

Global interest in the fate of Sam has been intense since a photograph of firefighter David Tree offering her a bottle of water in a burned-out forest was splashed across the Internet, in newspapers and on television broadcasts. The telephone at the shelter has rung incessantly with callers eager for an update on the creature's condition.

"It's insane," Raymond said with a laugh. "(But) everybody has been absolutely wonderful."
Sam was found moving gingerly on scorched paws by a fire patrol, said David Tree, the firefighter who spotted her.

On Thursday, Tree clarified to The Press that the rescue occurred Sunday, Feb. 1, three days after the fire initially broke out, and not last Feb. 8 as the AP previously reported.

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin, annxtberlin@gmail.com