Lewis the koala dies after being rescued from Australian wildfires

27 November 2019 - 12:53
By Cebelihle Bhengu
Koala bears in Australia are at risk during wild fires.
Image: 123RF/ Miriello Marcella Koala bears in Australia are at risk during wild fires.

Lewis the koala, who was rescued from a bush fire in New South Wales, Australia, a week ago, has died.

The Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie made the announcement on Tuesday on its Facebook page.

“Today we made the decision to put Ellenbrough Lewis to sleep. We placed him under the general anaesthesia this morning to assess his burns injuries and change bandages. We recently posted that injuries can get worse before they get better. In Ellenbrough Lewis' case, the wounds did get worse and unfortunately would not have gotten better,” it said. 

The koala became an internet sensation after a video of him being rescued by Toni Doherty went viral on social media. Scores of people have been following his recovery through the hospital's page, with some pledging donations and expressing gratitude to the facility for its efforts in caring for the animal.

On Sunday, the hospital gave an update that Lewis was receiving around the clock care and was in the “prognosis guarded” category, which means they were uncertain of his future. He had burns to his hands, feet, arms and the inside of his legs.

“We do not keep Koalas alive to save their lives if it means pain and discomfort that is too much. We are all about animal welfare, first and foremost.”

Doherty told Reuters the animal was engulfed in flames when she found him. “He was climbing a tree and he had flames up on his back legs, so I just covered him in my T-shirt and got him off the tree. It was so hot and so the other guys threw out water and we put out the fire on him.”

On Twitter, tributes are pouring in: