Koala saved from Australia bushfire dies after failing to recover from severe burns

Lewis’ rescue went viral and has been seen globally

Matt Drake
Tuesday 26 November 2019 17:33
'Lewis' the Koala bear saved from Australia bush fire dies from his injuries

A koala saved from an Australian bushfire has died after suffering horrific burns.

Lewis the koala was rushed to hospital last week after Toni Doherty risked her life to save the creature from burning bushland in New South Wales.

The video of the rescue went viral, showing Ms Doherty wrapping the koala in her own shirt to protect it from the burning heat.

Sadly the marsupial was put to sleep because he was not recovering from his severe injuries.

His death was announced via a Facebook post by Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

The post said: “Today we made the decision to put Ellenborough Lewis to sleep. We placed him under general anaesthesia this morning to assess his injuries and change the bandages.

“We recently posted that ‘burns injuries can get worse before they get better’.

“In Ellenborough Lewis’ case, the burns did get worse and unfortunately would not have gotten better.

“The Koala Hospital’s number one goal is animal welfare, and so it was on those grounds that this decision was made. We thank you for your ongoing support.”

The flames in South Wales have been severe due to a record-breaking heatwave. At least six people have died in the fires.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares have been burned and more than 600 homes destroyed.

The state has also suffered its worst levels of air pollution on record which has caused a spike in hospital visits.

Following the video of Lewis’ rescue there were reports that Koalas were “functionally extinct”.

But scientists have since rebutted the claims. Although they may not be functionally extinct yet, they do warn that they are still in danger due to climate change.

Associate professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Biology and Ecology, Jacquelyn Gill, said: “What is particularly frustrating about the term ‘functional extinction’ is it indicates a population that is basically past the point of no return, so it means that nothing really can be done.

“That might seem like scientists quibbling over terms or trying to argue for nerdy levels of precision, but a strong statement like that should mean something.”

But according to The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, koalas are at risk of extinction as their population is declining and vulnerable – although they are not endangered.

The news comes as a climate summit is being held in Spain, with the host claiming some nations have “silent complicity” with the global environmental crisis and said the upcoming U.N. meeting must not be treated as a “trade fair.”

With wildfires from the United States and Australia plus flooding in Europe all being linked to climate change, public pressure is rising on governments to find urgent solutions at the United Nations’ summit in Madrid on December 2-13.

Spain’s acting energy minister said delegates must combine enthusiasm with credible proposals to implement the Paris pact on curbing emissions enough to limit temperature rises to within 1.5-2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels.

Additional reporting by agencies

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