Published on February 11th, 2009 | by Alex Felsinger

Australian Firefighter Gives Surviving Koala Water from a Bottle

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First-hand video shows an Australian firefighter finding a lone koala amid the charred remnants of a forest. He’s a lucky survivor of the brush fires that have swept the country for the past few days.

“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,” firefighter David Tree said. “I yelled out for a bottle of water. I unscrewed the bottle, tipped it up on his lips and he just took it naturally.

“I love nature, and I’ve handled koalas before. They’re not the friendliest things, but I wanted to help him,” continued Tree. “He kept reaching for the bottle, almost like a baby.”

While an estimate on how many animals have been killed in the fires will be hard to come by, sheep and cows have died across the countryside. Koalas can be particularly vulnerable because they cannot move fast on the ground.

This koala was immediate seen by animal care officials who treated him for severe burns on his paws. They expect him to fully recover and be returned into the wild.

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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.

  • Aw, this is so tender of this firefighter…but could he perhaps wait until the animal has water before SHOUTING about it? Geeze.

    All the same, touching. I do wish more of us were as tender 🙂

  • ekw

    I’ve spent some time in Australia and love the place. I know quite a number of people involved with animal rescue, and one of the most dangerous of them all is the adult koala. They have razor sharp claws that they use to defend themselves. The fact that this koala would allow the man to pet his head and to hold his paws just shows how traumatized it was. Good job by the firemen and God help those who are caught in those fires.

  • Michael A. Weber


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