As the wildfires scorch acres of woodlands across Australia, it is estimated that billions of animals have been killed amid the devastation. Those who survived suffered from injuries such as dehydration and severe burns. One of those survivors is this koala rescued in Adelaide.
Billy the koala was found clinging to a tree in a backyard in Adelaide Hills, Australia, surrounded by utter destruction caused by the blazes. When his rescuers detached him from the tree, the poor koala let out a loud cry.
However, he soon calmed down and snuggled up in his carrier, seemingly aware that the help he’s been waiting for has finally arrived.
The koala was taken in by animal lovers Lucy and Adam Francis, a couple who works with 1300Koalaz in their rescue and rehabilitation efforts for the animals affected by the wildfires. The organization has had a lot of work to do, as the bushfires in Australia have been going on since September.
Billy was one of its unfortunate victims. One can only imagine the pain he was experiencing as he sustained severe burns in all his four paws. His rescuers rushed him to a vet where he was bandaged up, then they took him in so he can start the healing process in peace.
Lucy shared the story of Billy’s recovery in an interview with The Dodo:
“As his paws were all bandaged he was unable to climb or be in the normal kind of enclosure that we use for koalas in care, so we had to think outside of the box and we made a makeshift enclosure for him in our kitchen so we could be close to him always. We used a camping mattress for him to sit on, and placed a pillow behind him for him to lean back in as it was difficult for him to sit in a normal koala position. He was clearly in shock, frightened and covered in soot and ash from the fire.”
Billy was a large koala, and the couple worried that taking care of him would be hard due to his size. Given that he has been through so much fear and pain, the marsupial was depressed when they first took him in. Yet, from the very beginning, Billy exhibited a sweet and gentle demeanor towards his carers.
“When Billy first came to us and might have bitten my husband’s hand had he been a different-tempered koala, he sniffed it and licked it gently instead,” Lucy recalled. “We have a very close relationship with him and he lets us handle him as we need to and clearly trusts us, despite still being very much a wild koala.”
Day by day, the couple made an effort to gain Billy’s trust. They talk to him and gently stroke his fur every time they need to administer his medicine or move him.
The koala handled it all so well despite being in an unfamiliar environment. He seemed to understand that Lucy and Adam were there to take care of him and restore him to full health.
“His personality is so gentle and calm, even when we have to rub cream into his blisters and burns, or administer his vitamin mixture — which we’re really sure he hates — it’s like giving a very furry, reluctant child their medicine,” Lucy said. “He holds our hands with his back paws when we apply cream to his coccyx burn.”
When they first took him in, Billy felt too weak that he couldn’t even feed himself very well. But as the days went by, he grew stronger and stronger, and his rescuers can tell that he is becoming happier as his health continually improved.
It will take a while before Billy is released back to his natural habitat. In the meantime, he will be relaxing and healing under Lucy and Adam’s loving care. The day he’s ready to leave will surely be a joyous moment – but also a little sad.
“We can’t wait to see him fully recover, and release him in a big beautiful gum tree one day — although he will leave a very big Billy-shaped hole in our home and in our hearts,” Lucy said.