Unconscious koala rescued from Australian bushfire by firefighters

The marsupial has been named 'Constable K Bear' by police

Jess Staufenberg
Sunday 27 December 2015 13:17
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Australia: Koala rescued from raging bushfire

A koala has been rescued from "out of control" bushfires in Australia after being found unconscious by firefighters.

Fires swept across Victoria state on Christmas Day, destroying 116 homes and forcing residents of the worst affected areas to spend the night in shelters, according to ABC.

While battling the flames, fire authorities found an unconscious koala by the side of the road near the Wye River, Reuters reported.

They brought the marsupial, of which only about 80,000 are believed to be left in the wild, to the fire station and then handed her over to Victoria police.

She was fed gum leaves and water - the low nutrition, high fibre diet which explains why koalas spend so much time in trees sleeping and digesting - and she appeared to revive.

Now named "Constable K Bear" by police, the koala is in good health according to authorities.

Amy Hidge, of Wildlife Victoria, told The Guardian that it was not known how many animals had died in the fire.

"Often, you can't see if the pads on their feet have been burnt or if they have smoke inhalation, so we're saying that if they look a bit off, they're probably bushfire affected," she said.

Koalas used to be widespread in Australia, but were shot for sport and hunted for fur from the beginning of the last century.

They have also been culled by the Australian government because they were "dying anyway."

Eighty per cent of koala habitat has since disappeared, which leads to about 4,000 exposed koalas being killed by dogs and cars each year, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.

The fire along the Great Ocean Road, a national heritage stretch of road along the south-eastern coast, began on Christmas Day with police beginning to evacuate houses in some areas around midday.

Flames tore mainly through houses in the foothills while sparing the main strip of Wye River, the worst affected town.

Shelley Hyndman, from Surf Coast Wildlife Shelters Group, told Reuters that saving animals was difficult at present “because it’s still out of control, so we’re on standby.”

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