Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Lewis, the Koala Famously Rescued From Australian Bushfires, Has Died

Animals
Lewis, the Koala Famously Rescued From Australian Bushfires, Has Died
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

Lewis, the koala who stole the world's heart when a video of his rescue from Australian wildfires went viral, 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.

Trump's Affordable Clean Energy rule eliminated a provision mandating that utilities move away from coal. VisionsofAmerica /Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A federal court on Tuesday struck down the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A wild mink in Utah was the first wild animal in the U.S. found with COVID-19. Peter Trimming via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A mass methane release could begin an irreversible path to full land-ice melt. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

By Peter Giger

The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.

Read More Show Less
Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.

Read More Show Less
A hazy Seattle skyline due to wildfire smoke is seen on September 11, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Lindsey Wasson / Getty Images

Washington state residents are taking climate matters into their own hands. Beginning this month, 90 members of the public join the country's first climate assembly to develop pollution solutions, Crosscut reported.

Read More Show Less