Dozens of injured koalas arrive at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park’s makeshift animal hospital each day in cat carriers, washing baskets or clinging to wildlife carers.
Injured in bushfires that have ravaged the wildlife haven off the coast of South Australia state, there are so many marsupials currently requiring urgent treatment that carers don’t have time to give them names — they are simply referred to by a number.
Among them is Koala Number 64, who was brought in with burns to all four of his paws.
Stretched out on a surgical table in a bustling tent, he has been sedated so the wounds can be examined and treated.
“It’s healing nicely,” says veterinarian Peter Hutchison, explaining the koala had already benefitted from a few days’ of treatment.
Not all rescued koalas have been so lucky. Many are found so badly injured that they need to be euthanised.
Steven Selwood, South Australia Veterinary Emergency Management team leader at the hospital, says around 46,000 koalas were thought to be on the island before this year’s bushfires.
It is estimated as few as 9,000 remain, Selwood says, describing the figure as “pretty devastating”.
“The fires here were particularly ferocious and fast-moving so we’re seeing a lot less injured wildlife than in other fires,” he tells AFP.
“A lot of the wildlife was incinerated.”
Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the country’s koala population had taken an “extraordinary hit” as a result of bushfires that have raged for months, suggesting they could be listed as “endangered” for the first time.
Kangaroo Island is the only place in Australia where the population is entirely free of chlamydia — a sexually transmitted infection also found in humans that is fatal to koalas.
That has made them a key “insurance population” for the future of the species — and even more crucial now that large numbers have died in bushfires on the Australian mainland.
Almost half of Kangaroo Island has been razed by fire and an estimated 80 percent of koala habitat wiped out.
This widespread destruction has left rescuers with a tricky proposition — what to do with the animals once they have recovered.
For now, that issue is on the back burner as teams of vets work overtime to save as many as possible.
“He’s going to need another week (to recover) and will need to be kept caged after that,” Hutchinson tells AFP as he wraps a pink bandage around Number 64’s paw.
“Because there’s no habitat for him to go back to at this time.”
© 2020 AFP
WATCH: Van Jones delivers epic lecture on CNN after Trump ‘refused to condemn white supremacy’
CNN political analyst Van Jones tore into Donald Trump after the president's highly controversial decision to repeatedly refuse to condemn white supremacy at the first 2020 general election debate.
"Only three things happened for me tonight," Jone said.
"Number one, Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacy," he explained.
"Number two, the president of the United States refused to condemn white supremacy," he continued.
"Number three, the commander-in-chief refused to condemn white supremacy on the global stage -- in front of my children, in front of everybody's families -- and he was given the opportunity multiple times to condemn white supremacy," Jones said.
Jake Tapper stunned by Trump’s debate: ‘That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck’
CNN Jake Tapper reacted in shock on Tuesday following the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.
"That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck," Tapper said. "That was the worst debate I have ever seen. In fact, it wasn't even a debate. It was a disgrace."
"And it's primarily because of President Trump," he remarked, "who spent the entire time interrupting, not abiding by the rules that he agreed to, lying, maliciously attacking the son of the vice president. When asked to condemn white supremacists, he brought up the name of a neo-fascist, far-right group and said, 'Stand back and stand by.'"
Trump causes widespread shock by refusing to call out white supremacy at first 2020 debate
President Donald Trump was asked to call out white supremacy during the first 2020 general election presidential debate -- and refused to do so.
Instead of calling out white supremacists, Trump instead said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by!”
Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's views on racism: