The Irwins are working overtime to help save the animals hurt in the Australia bush fires.
The Australia Zoo, which is home and office for Crikey! It's the Irwins stars Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin, has treated more than 90,000 animals injured in the fires raging across the continent, the family of the late Steve Irwin shared on social media. The patients at the zoo hospital have included koalas, platypuses, possums, flying foxes and bats — and the ones that have survived have been extremely fortunate, considering an estimated half billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed since the fires started in September.
“Proud to be one of the many who are coming together to try to affect some positive change during this incredibly difficult time,” Robert wrote on Instagram Monday. “We’re here to help where we can for wildlife and to treat the survivors. Again, my greatest thank you goes to Australia’s incredible firefighters. If there’s anyone who can band together and lend a hand in crisis, it’s Australians.”
Robert, also a photographer, has been sharing photos of many of the rescues, including Bear the baby fruit bat. Hundreds of these bats have lost their home — and were transported to the zoo, which opened in 1970, from New South Wales.
“We’re doing our best to treat every animal we can — but unfortunately millions of other creatures are not as lucky as this little guy,” he wrote. “Thank you to all of the firefighters on the frontline — if you want to help, please support local fire crews. You can find out more about our wildlife hospital and how to donate at wildlifewarriors.org,” the family’s non-profit.
Bindi told the heartbreaking story of Blossom, a possum who didn’t make it despite getting emergency care.
“Devastatingly this beautiful girl didn’t make it even after working so hard to save her life,” she wrote. “This is the heart-wrenching truth, every day is a battle to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,” she wrote. “Now more than ever we need to work together to make a difference and protect our Mother Earth.”
Sadly, Blossom’s babies didn’t survive either, said Terri. “Their injuries were too extensive from the bush fire. They were comforted, given pain relief, and received the best medical treatment possible.” She described the loss as “tough.”
Bindi also shared video of some gray-headed flying fox. They were flown to the Queensland zoo after the rescue center where they had been recovering was evacuated due to risk of fire. While the zoo has a hospital, sea turtle rehabilitation center, sea snake ward and an almost-built bird recovery area, Bindi said, “it’s still not enough [space] to keep up” with the massive number of rescues. “We need to build a new ward for our patients.”
Terri also shared photos of Brian, a koala who suffered from smoke inhalation and had his home destroyed by fire. He’s since been released back into the wildlife in a safe area.
Patient 90,000 was Ollie, an orphaned platypus, who has been getting around the clock care.
The Australia zoo is located in Queensland, on the Sunshine Coast, where it has been safe from bush fires amid the widespread crisis. But there has been devastation across the continent, with 24 people dying since the start of the season, and 2,000 homes destroyed. Ecologists from the University of Sydney estimated the deaths of an estimated half billion mammals — though others say the number is likely much higher.
Social media is filled with images of the ecological devastation, especially injured animals and those, including kangaroos, fleeing the fires.
Many celebrities shone a spotlight on the disaster during Sunday’s Golden Globes. Australian Russell Crowe skipped the ceremony to remain Down Under to protect his property, which badly burned in November. He won for The Loudest Voice and had presenter Jennifer Aniston deliver his acceptance speech, which said, “Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way we all have a future.”
Other honorees also spoke about Australia’s fires. Ellen DeGeneres heralded the firefighters in her speech, and winner Patricia Arquette said “the continent of Australia on fire.” Australian Cate Blanchett also mentioned the firefighters battling the blazes amid the “climate disaster,” and Pierce Brosnan urged the country to “Stay strong. We're with you.” Phoebe Waller-Bridge announced she will be auctioning her Globes outfit to benefit firefighter relief.
Celebrities have also been donating to relief efforts. Nicole Kidman, who attended the Globes and said it has been “day-to-day” in her homeland, and husband Keith Urban, gave $500,000 to the Rural Fire Services. Singer Pink, who isn’t Australian but was just “devastated watching what is happening,” gave $500,000 as well.
Meanwhile, Australian comedian Celeste Barber has helped raise more than $26 million — and counting — to help the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
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