The ongoing bushfires in Australia continue to wreak havoc on the continent, devastating the native wildlife.
The koala population, already under threat of extinction, has been hit particularly hard: an estimated 25,000 have died in the fires.
We’ve seen many inspiring stories of people saving animal lives in the wake of the bushfires—and one story shows the special trusting bond between these creatures and their rescuers.
As a fire swept through Adelaide Hills, a poor koala named Billy was found clinging to a tree. He was saved from the devastation and brought into the care of couple Lucy and Adam Francis, from the 1300Koalaz rescue
“He was clearly in shock, frightened and covered in soot and ash from the fire,” Lucy Francis told The Dodo.
Unfortunately, Billy suffered severe burns on his paws, rendering him helpless with blue bandages wrapped around his hands and feet. But his rescuers made sure he would be able to safely recover.
Billy’s injuries made it unable for him to climb trees and be in his natural habitat, so the couple had to put together a “makeshift enclosure” in their kitchen.
“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,” Lucy said.
Koalas can be aggressive with people, and Billy went through a traumatic experience. But as they gained his trust, the couple found Billy to be a sweet, gentle koala.
“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,” Lucy told The Dodo.
That trust has been important for his recovery. The couple needs to apply cream to his burns, but say it’s “like giving a very furry, reluctant child their medicine.”
Billy’s condition has steadily improved. The eventual goal is to release him back into the wild, and while he still has some ways to go, everything’s looking promising.
In the meantime, he’s happily recovering in the home of two people who he really trusts, and who love him right back.
“We can’t wait to see him fully recover, and release him in a big beautiful gum tree one day,” Lucy told The Dodo. “Although he will leave a very big Billy-shaped hole in our home and in our hearts.”
Thank you to this couple for taking the time to heal this poor koala! We hope he will return to the wild soon!
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