Wildlife park owner stays behind to protect koalas from bushfires after town is evacuated

Wildlife park owner stays behind to protect koalas from bushfires after town is evacuated

A heroic wildlife park owner has chosen to stay behind to protect koalas from the bushfires after his town was evacuated.

Koalas are believed to be one of the biggest animal victims of the crisis which has killed upwards of half a billion animals because they feed on the highly flammable eucalyptus leaves.

One of the areas hit by the crisis is Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and on Thursday afternoon, residents were left with mere minutes to evacuate the area after a fire spread from near Parndana, as per the Guardian.

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

But while many people fled, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park owner Sam Mitchell and his staff opted to stay behind, putting their lives at risk, so that they could continue to look after the animals in their care.

Mitchell and his team have around 1,5000 animals to look after and 100 of them are koalas. He described the damage caused by the bushfires as "horrific".

In an interview with Sky News, he said: "For every koala we are seeing alive, there are 100 dead."

This woman risked her life to rescue a koala from the wildfire: 

As per the Metro, half the koala population on Kangaroo Island is believed to have been killed in the wildfires

While the majority of the island has now been evacuated, there are still 145 army reservists and supply vehicles on the island to help control the situation.

Kangaroo Island Wildlife wrote today on Facebook: "Thank you to everyone for your messages and thoughts. The park is currently safe although we are still under threat."

"Sam, our dad's, brother and manager Billy are all at the park defending our animals. We are not out of the woods yet but have an amazing team protecting us."

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 givit.org.auThe 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.