Koala mittens appeal: Animal charity calls on public to make pouches for orphaned animals

Vets now have enough mittens to treat koalas burned in Australia's wildfires

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The Independent Online

A conservation group in Australia which has been inundated with mittens knitted especially for koalas following an appeal, is now asking the public to sew pouches for orphaned animals.

The renewed appeal follows devastating bushfires which started on 2 January in Adelaide, and burnt through more then 12,500 hectares of land - destroying 27 homes and killing stock and wildlife.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) urged members of the public to follow a pattern shared on its Facebook page to knit mittens, which would be passed on to vets and other groups caring for injured koalas.

As the marsupials move particularly slowly, they easily become the victims of bushfires – suffering burns, especially on their paws. The mittens are used to protect their paws as vets treat them with burn creams. 

The IFAW appeal quickly went viral, and the charity has thanked those who took the time to help the cause.

On Friday, IFAW confirmed that rescuers have received thousands of mittens, and that they have been unable to count them all.

"What started off as a local campaign, just asking the Australian public has just absolutely gone global and viral," Josey Sharrad, an IFAW representative, told the Australia's ABC News. "We're now getting offers from as far afield as Russia, Kazakhstan, China, the UK and the US"

She added the number of koalas killed in the bushfires would not become clear for weeks.

But the charity's mission is not over, and the IFAW is now calling on animal lovers to create pouches in which orphaned kangaroos, possums and wallabies can nestle.

Those wishing to help are asked to use clean 100 percent cotton material to create pouches. Meanwhile, anyone put off by the expensive shipping fees can donate directly to the IFAW or other animal rescue centres.