Australia Grieves for Sam the Koala

Rescued animal was symbol of strength after devastating wildfires
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2009 5:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – The koala bear that became a symbol of hope after Australia's devastating wildfires earlier this year died before surgery today, the Melbourne Herald-Sun reports. Sam was saved by a firefighter who found her moving through the scorched landscape on badly burnt paws, and her image was broadcast around the world. "It’s tragic that Sam the koala is no longer with us," said PM Kevin Rudd.

Sam had been healing well from her burns but died from chlamydia, a disease that affects 50% of koalas. "It's like not worth it now, that she managed to survive the fires but die from a disease that they should be able to vaccinate her against," said the firefighter who rescued Sam. "I'm sobbing like a baby and I am a grown man. She meant so much—she highlighted the plight and vulnerability of Australian wildlife around the world.''