Wildfires have been devastating much of Australia since September, with 12.35 million acres burned nationwide, nine people killed, and more than 1,000 homes destroyed. And they show no signs of stopping, with New South Wales declaring a state of emergency last week as fires in that area are expected to worsen.
Ecologists at the University of Sydney are now estimating that as many as 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have been killed, directly or indirectly, by the fires. Among them are 8,000 koalas who are believed to have perished in New South Wales, which would represent nearly a third of the state's pre-fire population.
But across the nation, people are doing their part to save as many animals as possible. A GoFundMe set up by Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which is dealing with many of the koala casualties, has raised over $2.2 million as of the time of writing. They've treated dozens of koalas so far.
Among those doing their part are the Irwin family. Bindi Irwin, the daughter of late TV personality Steve, revealed in a recent Instagram post that their Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has been inundated with patients since the wildfires began.
They've helped so many animals in recent months that the hospital has now treated 90,000 patients since the hospital opened 16 years ago.
In an Instagram post, Bindi revealed: "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. 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."
In a separate Instagram post, Bindi explained that the hospital has been in overdrive since drought conditions began in September. Among their patients are hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes, a species listed as vulnerable, who were sent to the hospital after rescue centers they were recovering in were 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," Bindi explained. "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."
In 2019, the hospital also opened "a sea turtle rehabilitation centre, sea snake ward and are about to complete a new bird recovery area."
Bindi went on to implore her followers to donate to Australia Zoo's Wildlife Warriors charity to help their efforts.