February 12th, 2009
06:10 PM ET

Sam the Koala: Safe and Smitten

Sam, the koala, gets a visit from the firefighter that found her in a burnt Victorian forest.
Sam, the koala, gets a visit from the firefighter that found her in a burnt Victorian forest.
Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

The losses from Australia’s worst-ever wildfires are mounting: the official human death toll is now expected to climb as high as 300.

An even grimmer picture is emerging for wildlife.

Rescue officials say millions of animals likely died in the inferno that scorched the state of Victoria. Hundreds of burned, stressed and dehydrated animals – from kangaroos to wombats to wallabies and beyond - are being cared for at shelters across the region.

Sam, a koala, is one of the lucky ones. She was found by a fire patrol on Sunday and catapulted to fame by a heart-rending photograph showing a firefighter pouring water into her mouth. She’s getting treatment for her injuries at the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter, where she’s found more than human compassion. According to the Associated Press, the furry female has caught the eye of a male koala, nicknamed Bob. The two are reportedly inseparable. Sam has also been reunited with her rescuer. Click on Sam’s picture above to watch a video of their reunion.

Survivors like Sam can’t describe the trauma they’ve suffered but at least they are getting help. You can learn about efforts to care for the injured animals at Wildlife Victoria’s website.

Today, firefighters in Australia were still battling about 35 fires. That’s actually good news, since just days ago more than 400 wildfires were burning out of control.

The devastation is sobering. The question remains: Who and where are the criminals believed responsible for setting some of the fires?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Cate Vojdik
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Luis

    Wow. even a Koala knows when to run when it sees trouble coming.

    The people in New Orleans decided it would be a good idea to sit back and relax in their home while a hurricane decided to make a visit.

    People either are getting stupid or relying to much on the government nowadays to make decisions for them.

    February 13, 2009 at 3:25 am |
  2. BettyAnn Nacogdoches,TX

    AWWW! what a nice article! Very touching. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Warm and fuzzies! XO's

    February 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  3. BettyAnn Nacogdoches,TX

    Do you have the pic of the fireman feeding Sam water? Very sweet! I tried to paste it but it does not work on the blog. I will e-mail it to U.
    Thank YOU!
    Happy Valentine's Day Sam!

    February 12, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    In the days before the fires Australia had suffered from record breaking heat extremes in what was called the worst heat wave in their history. Add that to the last 2 to 3 years of drought the fire had a lot of very dry tinder to get the fire out of control very fast. People were warned repeatedly in the papers, etc. to be careful because a fire could start and get out of control easily. I can't understand why some people would do this on purpose.

    February 12, 2009 at 8:23 pm |