Cartoon showing Steve Irwin welcoming dead bushfire animals to heaven goes viral

Cartoon showing Steve Irwin welcoming dead bushfire animals to heaven goes viral

A cartoon showing Steve Irwin welcoming dead bushfire animals into heaven has gone viral.

Over the past week, heartwrenching stories about the animal casualties of the bushfires have dominated the headlines - stories worsened by the estimation that almost half a billion creatures have lost their lives in the blazes.

While there have been tales of hope, such as this koala joey which made a remarkable recovery after being rescued in September, and Bindi Irwin's announcement that Australia Zoo has helped over 90,000 animals, the situation remains bleak, which is why the cartoon of her late father Steve has resonated with so many.

This heart-wrenching video shows a desperate koala guzzling down water from a cyclist:

Arms outstretched, the drawing depicted the crocodile hunter saying: "Don't worry little guys! I'll take care of you!"

The drawing was created by Shania-Mae Sturm, from Atlanta. She posted it to her Instagram account on New Year's Eve, however, because it received so much attention, her account was subsequently deleted.

Now, it's been posted elsewhere, with people around the world being touched by what it depicts.

Posting to her Sketchy Koala Facebook page, Sturm said she hopes that Steve is looking after the animal victims in heaven.

She wrote: "So... it's sad to say that I've spent about 3 weeks or so on this and the subject is still relevant.

"This little tribute drawing goes to all the innocent animals caught in the blazes across my home country, it breaks my heart to see it's still going on but there's only so much that can be done to keep it from spreading.

"I hope all the animals who couldn't make it are now in heaven with Steve Irwin, being taken care of, and not having a care in the world or memory of how they got there. Rest In Peace fuzzy babies, we will miss you."

This Australian border collie saved a flock of sheep from the raging bushfire:

Needless to say, the reaction from social media users has been one of unanimous heartbreak.

One Instagram user wrote: "Ouch, this hits hard miss u #steveirwin."

An Instagram comment. Credit: Instagram / @balapat

A second remarked: "Oh my, this hits right in the gut. ?"

An Instagram comment. Credit: Instagram / @balapat

"Thank you so much for raising awareness for our country! ??"

An Instagram comment. Credit: Instagram / @balapat

After the drawing went viral, Sturm took to her Facebook once again to thank people for their kind comments about her work, writing: "I am so thankful for all the shares! I want everyone to see it ❤️."

How you can donate:

The NSW Rural Fire Service has multiple options for direct donations. You can donate to the RFS as a whole, or to specific brigades. You can donate through bank transfer, credit card or cheque.

For bank transfers, there is a set bank account (Account Name: NSW Rural Fire Service, BSB: 032-001, Account No: 171051). This account is for the RFS as a whole.

 This link will take you to the landing page for credit card donations. You can donate to the RFS general fund or choose specific brigades from the dropdown box.

In Queensland, Fire and Rescue advise that you can donate both money and items through the website website allows fire-affected communities to list what they specifically need, from water tanks in Yeppoon to school uniforms in Zillmere.

In Victoria, the Country Fire Authority has two bank accounts - one for specific brigades and one for the general fund.

In South Australia, the Country Fire Service accepts donations through the CFS Foundation. You can donate to them here. You can also leave a bequest.

If you cannot find the particular brigade you are looking for, you can contact them directly.