Brave hero who ran INTO a bushfire to rescue dying koala Lewis shares her experience
When footage of the now-famous (and sadly late) koala Lewis surfaced, his rescuer Toni Doherty was hailed a hero, but how did this act of kindness effect Toni?
In this released video, the injured animal appeared to be limping and had patches of burnt fur. Toni ran up to the koala and saved it using her shirt to wrap it up. She has since been hailed a hero and opened up about the brave act.
More than 100 bushfires continue to burn across the Australian koala habitats.
The brave woman who ran into a bushfire and took her shirt off to save a defenseless koala as it sat helpless in the flames has opened up about the heart-wrenching moment.
Toni Doherty was recorded running into an out-of-control bushfire in the New South Wales town of Long Flat to save the injured marsupial, named Ellenborough Lewis.
Footage showed the koala, who had patches of fur missing, running close to the fires before Mrs. Doherty poured bottles of water onto him and wrapped him up in a blanket.
Toni Doherty was recorded running into an out-of-control bushfire in the Australian town of Long Flat to save the injured marsupial.
Mrs. Doherty opened up on a local morning show about how she feared the koala would run directly into the flames.
'It was vulnerable, all I could think to do was to try and rescue him,' she said. 'We just jumped out and I knew I needed to put something around him as I ran to the tree so I just took off my shirt and covered him with it and tried to get him out of the fire.'
Toni said she could feel the heat radiating off Lewis as he screamed in pain.
Mrs. Doherty (pictured with her husband) opened up about how she feared the koala would run directly into the flames.
'He was being burnt. He was burning underneath, on his little back legs when he was approaching the tree, I've never heard a koala before, I didn't realise they could cry out,' she said.
Toni said she wanted to get the koala out of the fire as soon as possible.
She instantly felt a special bond with Lewis, saying she had an 'instant reaction' when she saved him from the raging fire.
Lewis spent time being treated for severe burns to his feet, chest and stomach, he was bandaged and given antibiotics, at the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie. He was also visited by Tony just a few days after his rescue.
Toni visits Lewis the koala at the koala hospital where he was recovering.
Sadly, after almost a week of treatment, it was decided to put Lewis to sleep to ease his suffering.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital made the decision, Tuesday after inspecting his wounds. It became clear that the marsupial's burns were not going to improve. "Our number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made," the hospital said.
Lewis had already been receiving "substantial pain relief," and it was determined that "his injuries and his pain are not treatable and tolerable."
As of today, more than 100 blazes continue to burn across eastern Australia. Destroying koala habitats and further endangering the local koala population.
Over 2000 firefighters are working in the field supported by fire fighting aircraft. At least six people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed since the emergency began in November.
The impact on wildlife is yet unknown, with vast areas of habitat having been scorched. Officials fear the toll on native ecosystems will be immense.
The country's koala populations have been a major victim of the bushfires, it is estimated that over 900 koalas have been killed by the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.