Koala Who Touched World's Heart Has Died

Lewis, rescued from Aussie bushfire, had burns that were just too much to overcome
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2019 9:44 AM CST

As wildfires ravage significant sections of Australia, a small moment of hope emerged last week after a woman saved a koala from a tree in bushland that had gone ablaze. The video of Toni Doherty's rescue went viral, and the story made headlines around the world. Now, per the BBC, a sad related headline: The koala, which Sky News notes had been named Ellenborough Lewis, has died. Vets decided that the 14-year-old marsupial, which had serious burns to his feet, arms, legs, and chest, among other body parts, was too severely injured, and so they euthanized him. "[Our] number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made," the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital announced.

The video of E. Lewis' rescue captured the world's attention, and heart, as it showed Doherty wrapping him in her shirt and dousing him with water after pulling him out of a tree. "I didn't realize they could cry out," she told Nine News, via the BBC. "It was just so heart-rending, and I knew I needed to get him out of there as quickly as possible." Forbes reports that more than 1,000 koalas are believed to have died in the fires, with an estimated 80% of their habitat lost. Six people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed so far in the wildfires Down Under. (Read more koala stories.)

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