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Koala Rescue Photo Emerges Amid Australia's Scorched Earth Crisis


You may have heard about the fires that have consumed a huge amount of land in Australia's Victoria state. The death toll from the fires may exceed 200:

"Police have so far confirmed 181 deaths as the fires ripped across the southern state of Victoria on Saturday. But the state’s premier, John Brumby, said more than 50 people remained missing Tuesday afternoon."

Animals, of course, are suffering as well. I imagine you'll soon be seeing this photo everywhere:

"The koala moved gingerly on scorched paws, crossing the blackened landscape as the fire patrol passed. Clearly in pain, the animal stopped when it saw firefighter David Tree following behind. 'It was amazing, he turned around, sat on his bum and sort of looked at me with (a look) like, put me out of my misery,' Tree told The Associated Press on Tuesday. 'I yelled out for a bottle of water. I unscrewed the bottle, tipped it up on his lips and he just took it naturally. He kept reaching for the bottle, almost like a baby.' The team called animal welfare officers as it resumed its patrols on Sunday, the day after deadly firestorms swept southern Victoria state. 'I love nature, and I've handled koalas before. They're not the friendliest things, but I wanted to help him,' Tree said."

Police are working to determine how many of the fires may have been set by arsonists.

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  1. That is the photo of the year!

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Feb 10, 2009 12:38:23 PM

  2. Truly one of the most moving and gentle pictures I've seen.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Feb 10, 2009 1:05:40 PM

  3. Poetic that the koala turned to a "Tree" for help...

    Posted by: Taiwandroo | Feb 10, 2009 1:07:38 PM

  4. I hope the little guy pulls through. It's heartbreaking the sort of catastrophic effects humans can have on nature. We need all the David Trees we can get.

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 10, 2009 1:11:33 PM

  5. Wow, that photo warms my heart... if I had one.

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 10, 2009 1:12:03 PM


    The koala was just so helpless he knew this guy was his only salvation. God bless this guy.

    Posted by: andy | Feb 10, 2009 1:12:25 PM

  7. Correction: I hope the little gal pulls through. According to the AP article, the koala was nicknamed Sam, is female, and is doing fine!

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 10, 2009 1:15:08 PM

  8. Definitely a moving picture.

    Posted by: Jose Luis R | Feb 10, 2009 1:20:36 PM

  9. It's just heartbreaking to imagine some idiot set at least some of those fires. If ever there was a case of someone who no longer deserves to be part of the human race, it is that person.

    Posted by: MT | Feb 10, 2009 1:47:13 PM

  10. Wow, that's an evocative photo. Koala's are mean little bastards for the most part. Not as mean as some other marsupials like devils, but cranky nonetheless.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 10, 2009 2:09:23 PM

  11. They are notoriously vicious - though not as bad as chimpanzees. If it'd been healthier it probably would have torn the guy's head off and guzzled blood.

    Still, definitely cute. Get that critter some eucalyptus leaves.

    Posted by: Yeek | Feb 10, 2009 2:18:32 PM

  12. I hope she's doing ok.

    The picture is beautiful.

    Posted by: Tralfaz | Feb 10, 2009 3:11:48 PM

  13. here's a link to a gallery with lot's of people helping out thirsty koalas.,23607,5037290-5014156-1,00.html

    Posted by: alguien | Feb 10, 2009 3:31:09 PM

  14. It's horrific, what's happening down under. Having lived in LA through a couple of nasty fires, I can only hope this will be the end of it. I'd never wish this sort of horror on anyone -- man or beast.

    Posted by: Kyle Michel Sullivan | Feb 10, 2009 4:33:53 PM

  15. Lucky it wasn't a Drop Bear :)

    Posted by: Stu | Feb 10, 2009 7:12:29 PM

  16. this is the saddest thing since 9/11. suriously.

    Posted by: James Anthony | Feb 10, 2009 8:03:41 PM

  17. So am I a total wuss for crying my eyes out at the sight of this picture?

    Soooo touching.

    Animals over people any day!

    Posted by: Kyle | Feb 10, 2009 9:33:03 PM

  18. In general, I agree..but people are just animals. The only real distinction between the complexity of table manners and the dynamics the persist in a murder of crows is our bias toward thinking that table manners separate us from the beasts. a terrible thing.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 10, 2009 11:07:37 PM

  19. The human death toll is now expected to go over 300 after 1 in 5 people were killed in the town of Maryville.

    Wildlife and stock deaths are estimated in the millions

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 11, 2009 6:49:36 AM

  20. The human death toll is now expected to go over 300 after 1 in 5 people were killed in the town of Maryville.

    Wildlife and stock deaths are estimated in the millions

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 11, 2009 6:50:36 AM

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