As the devastating wildfires continue to ravage Australia, our hearts break for all the people and animals affected by this relentless inferno. Statistics provided by ecologists at the University of Sydney and World Wildlife Fund Australia estimate that over 1 billion wild animals have died in the blaze.
While the rest of the world only sees the devastation through their television screens and social media, we can only imagine what a nightmare it must be for those who are there to experience it personally – the families who were forced to flee their homes and the brave individuals who are in the frontlines taming the fires and rescuing its victims.
In an interview with Sunrise, Robert Irwin – the son of the late TV presenter and wildlife expert Steve Irwin – and his mother, Terri Irwin, shared an update about the tragic situation of the koala population in Australia amidst the bushfires.
As Robert was visibly trying to hold back his tears, Terri took the reins in explaining the plight of the koalas.
“Their instinct is to go up — safety’s in the top of the tree,” she explained. “And with a hot fire, the eucalyptus trees have so much oil in their leaves that they ignite and actually explode. So being able to treat and help koalas is few and far between because they’re basically incinerated, which is absolutely heart breaking.”
Terri also believes that setting aside a habitat for koalas won’t do enough to repopulate them.
“Koalas are classed as vulnerable, and I think after this event, we need to really sit down and look at classing them as endangered and protecting our icons. Our kangaroos, our koalas, [they are] inspirational to Australians as well as our visitors from overseas,” she said.
The community, zoos, and veterinary clinics in Australia do all they can to assist in rescuing and treating injured wildlife. The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, which is run and owned by the Irwins, has rehabilitated more than 90,000 animals, including those who were victimized by the fires. Aside from koalas, the hospital staff is also attending to possums, platypus, birds, and many other types of animals.
Aside from suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, these animals are forced to seek refuge in unfamiliar territories.
“Now as they try to escape the flames, we’re seeing not only burn injuries, but also animals coming onto roads, being hit by cars, attacked by dogs, so it really is a tough situation and it’s going to be something that’s going to take years to recover from,” Robert said.
You may watch Terri and Robert’s interview with Sunrise below courtesy of UNILAD.
Let us help the Irwin family in their mission to save wildlife. You may support the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors by making a donation HERE.