Robert Irwin, the late Steve Irwin’s 16-year-old son, is the spitting image of his father. Not only do they look alike but they share the same passion for wildlife.
The recent bushfires in Australia continue to burn with fury, and animal conservationists and lovers are torn up about what it’s doing to innocent animals, including Robert Irwin and his entire family.
They aren’t just saddened by the devastation, they are doing something about it – the Irwin’s have treated upwards of 90,000 animals impacted by the inferno.
The fires erupted in September, torching millions of acres and countless homes, while robbing the lives of 20 people. At the time of writing this, there are currently around 136 different fires burning across NSW.
There are around 2,700 firefighters on the ground working to fight the flames. In addition, the Australia Defense Force called upon 3,000 army reserve forces and others with specialist capabilities to help fight the flames.
Despite all of the boots on the ground, the fires continue to spread, leaving wide trails of devastation. No one has been impacted more severely than Australia’s vast wildlife.
According to the University of Sydney, the fires have claimed the lives of as many as half a billion animals, including 8,000 koalas. Just last weekend, around 25,000 koalas perished in the fires when the fire reached Kangaroo Island.
"Being able to treat and help koalas is few and far between because they're basically incinerated"
Terri Irwin chats about the devastating impact of Australia's bushfires on our vulnerable koala population.
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) January 5, 2020
The Irwin family has been working tirelessly to help save as many animals as possible. They’ve taken in a record-breaking number of animal patients at their Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
Last Sunday, Robert and his mother Terri Irwin spoke to the Sunrise about the crisis.
“It’s definitely an ongoing issue and we’re just trying to do our best to help in any way we can. But it’s a pretty tough situation. We’re absolutely heartbroken,” Robert said.
You could see the emotion on Robert’s face as his mother explained why koalas are some of the most impacted by the fire.
“The consideration with koalas is that their instinct is to go up, safety is in the top of the tree, and with a hot fire, eucalyptus trees have so much oil in their leaves they actually ignite and explode,” Terri explained.
Sadly, this makes it extremely difficult to treat the koalas that do survive because “they’re basically incinerated, which is absolutely heartbreaking,” Terri elaborated.
“But now is the time we need to look at more than just setting aside habitat. Koalas are classed as vulnerable and I think that after this event we need to really sit down and look at classing them as endangered and protecting our icons, our kangaroos, our koalas.”
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“‘Bear’ is one of the hundreds of baby fruit bats that lost their homes in the horrific NSW fires. 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. 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” — @robertirwinphotography
It’s not just the flames that are harming animals. The Irwin’s are seeing all different kinds of injuries. Smoke inhalation is a major problem, as well as animals who have entered areas where they shouldn’t be in an attempt to escape the flames.
“This means they’re getting hit by cars and are being attacked by domestic animals, so there’s a horrific knock on effect.”
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Our @AustraliaZoo Wildlife Hospital takes in animals from all over Australia. Hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes, a species listed as vulnerable, have been flown to Queensland after the rescue centre they were recovering in was at risk from fire and evacuated. Some of the orphans are now being cared for by the team at the hospital until they’re big enough to go home, and there’s no threat of fire. 🦇 In September, flying fox admissions to the hospital skyrocketed by over 750% due to drought conditions and lack of food. Flying foxes are now being drastically affected by wildfires and we’re again seeing an influx of these beautiful animals from across the country. This week, we treated our 90,000th patient. To cope with so many animals being admitted to the hospital, in 2019 we opened a sea turtle rehabilitation centre, sea snake ward and are about to complete a new bird recovery area, but it’s still not enough to keep up. We need to build a new ward for our patients. Wildlife Warriors from around the world are asking how they can help us save native wildlife, you can donate on our website www.wildlifewarriors.org , or support our fundraiser to start construction of our newest ward by visiting the link in my bio! 💚
Robert’s sister, 21-year-old Bindi Irwin, shared that her family has treated over 90,000 animals since the wildfires broke out. Along with koalas, they’ve helped save platypus, possums, birds, and other rare animals unique to Australia’s terrain.
“With so many devastating fires within Australia, my heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much. I wanted to let you know that we are SAFE. There are no fires near us @AustraliaZoo or our conservation properties. Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients,” Bindi wrote on Instagram.
“My parents dedicated our Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to my beautiful grandmother. We will continue to honour her by being Wildlife Warriors and saving as many lives as we can,” she added.
She also shared a photo of a possum they named Blossom who was burned in the bushfires. Sadly, Blossom didn’t make it despite the entire team working around the clock to save her.
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Blossom the possum was admitted to the #AustraliaZoo Wildlife Hospital after being caught in one of the bushfires burning in other parts of Queensland. We have such an incredible team who work day and night to protect gorgeous animals like Blossom. Devastatingly this beautiful girl didn’t make it even after working so hard to save her life. I want to thank you for your kind words and support. This is the heart-wrenching truth, every day is a battle to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Now more than ever we need to work together to make a difference and protect our Mother Earth. For more on how you can become a Wildlife Warrior visit www.wildlifewarriors.org 💙🙏🏼
“This is the heart-wrenching truth, every day is a battle to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Now more than ever we need to work together to make a difference and protect our Mother Earth,” Bindi penned.
Learn how you can help by visiting the Irwin family’s foundation Wildlife Warrior @ www.wildlifewarriors.org.