You've probably seen the video already, I'm warning you, it's heartbreaking. But it also fills you with hope, because it'll remind you of what Mr. Rogers says about tragic situations.... "Look for the helpers."
A woman in Sydney, Australia literally took the shirt off of her back to help save an injured koala from a brush fire.
The video shows a lone koala walking across a road, then through another area of brush that's on fire, crawling over flames and then sitting down surrounded by flames, seemingly giving up. A short time later the koala is in a tree, in an area that's actively burning.
That's when Toni Doherty, a grandmother of seven, saw him and just had to do something. She told KDVR:
"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 took her shirt off and used it to pull the koala from the tree, it's obvious from his cries that the little guy has been burned and is in pain. She takes the koala to an area nearby and pours water on him to help ease his pain. You can see the little one's distress just before a man hands her a blanket to wrap the koala in, and it's not until he's wrapped up safe that the koala is able to calm itself a little bit.
She took the koala to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where they've named him Lewis. He's said to be in good condition, being treated for burns on his paws and body, and was given plenty of fluids. The next day, he appeared to be doing much better, as caregivers say he's happily munching on eucalyptus leaves. .
Reports say that 'millions' of animals have been killed in the fires....koalas, wombats, kangaroos. But sadly, the koala population has been a major victim of the fires because unlike other animals, they do NOT flee fires. Instead, they scale trees as high up as they can go and curl themselves into a ball for protection and wait for the danger to pass. But fires like these are too intense and even if the koala can get to the top of the tree, and the tree doesn't fall, a koala suffering from dehydration or smoke inhalation may fall from it and burn to death. And even if they make it through the fire danger, if their claws are injured or broken, they aren't likely to survive in the wild because if a koala can't climb, they can't survive.
Experts say more than 350 koalas are believed to have been killed in just one major habitat of 700 in the fire zone. With just 43,000 koalas estimated to be left in the wild, the fire and the destruction of the koalas colonies will have a major impact on the future of the species and could put them on the endangered species list..
The Koala Hospital where Lewis is being treated has so far taken in more than 30 koalas suffering from burns and dehydration, and rescuers there actively going out into the fire zones to see if they can find more survivors to get them help. A GoFundMe page was been set up for the hospital with an initial goal of raising $25,000. So far more than 20,000 people have donated more than $930,000.
The video puts into focus the massive destruction that wildfires have caused in Australia in the last few weeks. Six people have been killed, hundreds of homes destroyed and more than 2.5 MILLION acres of farmland and have burned.
But as you watch the heartbreaking destruction.....look for the helpers, they're always there.