Images of horribly burnt koalas during the country’s bushfire emergency have tugged at the nation’s heartstrings so much, that more than $567,000 has been crowdfunded to help the struggling marsupials in two weeks, ABC News reports.
When the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital started the GoFundMe page on October 31 it hoped to raise $25,000 for the rescue and rehabilitation work in the region where it as many as 350 koalas may have perished.
“We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the generosity of people donating,” volunteer Lyn Booth said.
“It’s far exceeding what we expected.”
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital normally treats between 200 and 250 koalas each year but that work is expected to increase following the recent bushfires in the region.
Ms Booth said the koalas currently under care after the bushfires would need to stay for a lot longer than normal.
“We expect to have the koalas in here for up to 12 months because they won’t be able to be released into their habitat because it’s non-existent.
“So we’ve got to wait for that bush to regenerate so that they can be put back out there.”
Ms Booth said most of the animals in the current bushfire zones were suffering dehydration, not only from habitat loss in the fires, but from the drought which has left little water in the leaves the koalas eat.
Money raised from the campaign will go toward buying and installing drinking stations for the marsupials which remained in their natural habitat and a wild koala breeding program.
In the meantime, Ms Booth encouraged donations to be made directly to either the official GoFundMe campaign or the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital website.