An Australian woman literally gave the shirt off her back to rescue an injured koala who was trapped in a brushfire in New South Wales.
The fire had crossed over a highway, leaving the koala confused, hurt and trapped in the flames that threatened to take his life.
Toni Doherty told 9News that she spotted the troubled koala from a vehicle and instinctively raced out to help.
“He just went straight into the flames, and I just jumped out of the car and went straight to him,” Doherty said.
With no time to waste, Doherty used her shirt to carry the injured koala out of the brushfire. The koala, estimated to be about 14 years old, was wailing in pain and confusion.
Doherty quickly poured a couple of bottles of water over the koala’s singed fur, wrapped him in a thick blanket and took him to the local Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Doherty was reunited with the koala, who she named Lewis after one of her seven grandchildren, a few days later.
Lewis, who suffered burns across his body, was feeling up to eating eucalyptus leaves while Doherty praised him for fighting to survive.
Though strong enough to eat, for now, Lewis may or may not survive his injuries, hospital staff told 9News.
“He is probably 50-50 at this stage,” a spokesperson from Port Macquarie Koala Hospital said. “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,” the spokesperson said.
In light of the recent wildfires that have ravaged the nearby areas, Port Macquarie has received an influx of injured koalas, as well as other wildlife in need of help.
The hospital has been using donation money to nurse injured animals back to health while also distributing portable drinking stations in the areas affected by the wildfires, in hopes that the water will aid vulnerable wildlife.
According to 9News, approximately a third of the koala’s habitat in the Port Macquarie area has been burned in recent wildfires.
For the koalas who do pull through, finding a suitable home may prove difficult, but not impossible, when the marsupials are healthy enough to be released.
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