Video shows vets treating dozens of injured koalas, other animals in Australia

A veterinary officer said one koala's injury was "like a very severe burn in a human who walked across hot coals."
/ Source: NBC News

With over 1 billion animals estimated to have been killed in the Australia fires, wildlife parks on the country's Kangaroo Island are dedicating their resources to saving as many as they can.

Sam Mitchell, owner of Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, has set up an emergency triage area to treat koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and other animals burned and injured in the record-breaking wildfires.

In a video by The Associated Press, Mitchell and his staff are seen tending to an animal that suffered burns on its fur and nose. Some animals sustained injuries so severe they had to be euthanized, Mitchell said in the video.

Another video by Reuters showed veterinarians treating koalas burned in the blazes. Veterinary officer Garnett Hall described one koala's injuries as being "like a very severe burn in a human who walked across hot coals."

Vets and volunteers treat koalas at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, Jan. 10, 2020.Reuters

"His coat's got a lot of smoke; it's slightly singed in places. His lungs have a bit of smoke damage to them as well," Hall said. "So, he's a very sick koala, but he's one that we do have hope for."

Hall said they have received about 60 wounded koalas and estimated that roughly 30,000 koalas have been killed or injured in the fires.

"There were infernos," he said. "It's amazing that some have survived but they have and we're going to do our best to get them back to full health and then ultimately back to the wild when they're ready."

A scientist at the University of Sydney estimated that more than 1 billion animals have been killed in the fires. Chris Dickman, who teaches ecology, said the animals either died directly due to the fires or from related causes such as starvation and habitat loss.

The wildfires have killed 27 people. Australian authorities on Thursday urged nearly a quarter of a million people to evacuate their homes.