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Koala Who Survived Bushfires Tragically Dies From 'Silent Killer'

Koala Who Survived Bushfires Tragically Dies From 'Silent Killer'

People need to be aware that there is a wrong way to help a koala

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

There has been a huge outpouring of love for koalas during the Australian bushfire crisis. Loads of photos and videos have been uploaded to social media that show people helping the furry marsupials as they gasp for water and shelter.

But we're being warned that the way we give water to koalas is crucial - and many people are doing it wrong.

Animalia Wildlife Service has posted about the dangers of feeding an animal like a koala as they have a specific way of getting water into their system.

The animal charity wrote on Facebook: "With all the Facebook posts about wonderful people caring for wildlife amidst the fire and heat disasters over these past weeks a silent tragedy is happening.

"Koala's are DYING because people are trying their best to help but don't understand how a koala actually drinks."

The charity used an example of Arnie the koala, who managed to survive a massive bushfire in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland in Victoria, but tragically died because a Good Samaritan was uninformed in terms of the correct way to help.

Animalia Wildlife Shelter/Facebook

Animalia Wildlife Service said: "Arnie survived the heat wave AND fires with only minor burns to his feet and hands. His burns were healing. He survived losing his mum and the loss of his home.

"He was found by some very caring people who did what any human would do when they find a distressed animal, and offered him a drink from their bottle of water. They were just trying to help.

"They didn't know that it is dangerous for Koala's to drink this way. They didn't know that Koala's usually get most of their water via the gum leaves that they eat and they don't often drink water, but when they do, they are face down and lapping small amounts with their tongue."

Koalas drink in a similar way to dogs in the sense that they lap up the water with their tongue. If they drink with their head tilted back, like a human would, it can cause the liquid to go into their lungs and they can suffer aspiration pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Koala found near the Cudlee Creek fire.

The animal shelter says Arnie's death needs to be taken as a huge wake up call to the way that passersby interact with injured koalas.

The post continued: "Despite a mammoth rescue effort involving all three emergency services and wildlife rescuers he died... more specifically he drowned. It was heartbreaking for everyone involved.

"If you find a Koala in need of help in the heat or in a fire zone, please DO NOT OFFER IT WATER BY TIPPING IT FROM A BOTTLE OR CUP INTO THEIR MOUTHS AND NEVER FORCE A KOALA TO DRINK.

"If it is safe to do so then catch it in a blanket and transport to the nearest shelter, otherwise take note of its location and let someone know the details."

While the stories of people helping koalas at their time of need are heartwarming, we need to make sure we're doing our best to take care of the animals.

Featured Image Credit: Animalia Wildlife Shelter

Topics: News, Bushfires, Animals, Australia