AUSTRALIA (KXAN) — A badly-burnt koala was rescued by a brave passerby as it crawled through a wildfire in Australia Tuesday morning. The koala, named Lewis, is now facing a long recovery.
Lewis’ rescuer Toni Doherty gave him water and wrapped him in a blanket after finding the injured koala on a highway west of the New South Wales State town of Wauchope.
According to local media, the 14-year-old koala was taken to nearby koala hospital port Macquarie for treatment for severe burns to his feet, chest and stomach. His injuries are so severe that he may not be allowed back in the wild.
Doherty said it was her “natural instinct” that led her to rescue the animal from the burning trees.
“Well, it’s just seeing a defenseless animal going straight into the fire, I knew if we didn’t get him down from the tree then he would’ve been up there amongst the flames,” said Doherty. “So, just immediately thought just get to him, put the fire out and as soon as I caught him, I realized we had some water in the car and yeah, just natural instinct.”
Hundreds of koalas are believed to have died in wildfires gripping the New South Wales state over the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, several wildfires are also burning out of control in the South Australia state with catastrophic weather conditions prompting fire officials to issue emergency warnings.
Doherty isn’t the only one doing what she can to rescue koalas from these fires. A rescue dog named Bear that can detect koalas through the scent of their fur has been working in a region devastated by two fires since last month. So far Bear has saved two koalas and spotted several more that can be saved.