The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Lewis, the Koala Famously Rescued From Australian Bushfires, Has Died
The koala rose to fame when Australian grandmother Toni Doherty was filmed risking her life to carry him out of the flames using the shirt off her back. Doherty named him Ellenborough Lewis after one of her seven grandchildren, according to HuffPost, and rushed him to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. But the hospital had to put him to sleep when his injuries proved too severe.
"We recently posted that 'burns injuries can get worse before they get better.' In Ellenborough Lewis's case, the burns did get worse, and unfortunately would not have gotten better. The Koala Hospital's number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made," the hospital wrote in a Facebook Post Tuesday.
Doherty and her husband, Peter, were present to say goodbye, 9News reported.
"We were there this morning. We are naturally very sad about this, as we were hoping he'd pull through but we accept his injuries were severe and debilitating and would have been quite painful," Peter Doherty told Australia based 9News.
Lewis's story brought attention to a wider crisis faced by Australia's Koala population in the midst of an extreme bushfire season. More than a million hectares have burned just in the state of New South Wales, BBC News reported, and the Australian summer has not even begun. Australia's Climate Council has warned for six years that the climate crisis is increasing the country's fire risk, and this has devastating consequences for koalas.
In October, the same hospital that tended Lewis warned that more than 350 koalas might have died when fires reached a koala habitat in Port Macquarie. Deborah Tabart, chairwoman of the Australian Koala Foundation, said this month that 80 percent of koala habitat has been destroyed by the fires.
The fires are especially perilous for koalas because they will climb trees and curl up into balls instead of running away. But they also scream for help when distressed, something that caught Doherty's attention.
"I've never heard a koala before. I didn't realise they could cry out. It was just so heart-rendering," Doherty told Today after rescuing Lewis, according to 9News.
Jill Filipovic wrote for CNN that Lewis's death was a symptom of a much larger problem, as the climate crisis and other human activities threaten Earth's biodiversity with mass extinction.
"Indeed, koalas are a particularly cute emblem of how a perfect storm of greed, nationalism, climate denialism, political cynicism has gathered to fundamentally alter life on earth as we know it," she wrote.
- Sydney Faces 'Catastrophic Fire Danger' for First Time as 130 ... ›
- Sydney Is Running out of Water as Bushfires Rage - EcoWatch ›
- Viral Video Shows Woman Rescuing Koala From Australian Bushfires ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.
Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.
Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.
Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.
East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.