Amid the raging bushfires in South Wales, Australia, a hero emerged to save the life of a young koala.
The dramatic rescue was caught on video. The clip shows the koala crossing the street and heading towards a group of burning trees; the animal is quickly followed by Toni Doherty – an Australian woman who spotted the koala and instantly jumped into action.
Doherty ran into the woods from her car and immediately wrapped the koala in the shirt off her back. After getting the marsupial to safety, she poured water all over the koala to cool its burns.
“He just went straight into the flames, and I just jumped out of the car and went straight to him,” Doherty told Australia’s Nine News.
Doherty took the koala — whom she named Lewis after one of her grandkids — to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, the outlet reported.
On Wednesday, Doherty reunited with Lewis in the hospital. She told Australia’s Nine News that she did not think twice about the rescue.
“Just natural instinct,” she said. “I knew if we didn’t get him down from the tree, then he would have been up there amongst the flames.”
A spokesperson from the hospital told the outlet that Lewis remains in serious condition and “is probably 50-50 at this stage.”
“His feet are completely burnt and he has burns to his chest and stomach,” the spokesperson said. “He has been bandaged and given antibiotics but will take a lot of looking after, if he pulls through.”
Lewis is around 14 years old ... he’s well enough to have a munch on some eucalyptus leaves this morning. Is still suffering some serious burns after being rescued from a bushfire yesterday. 🐨 @9NewsSyd pic.twitter.com/OFzX9PqfeW— Lizzie Pearl (@lizziepearl) November 19, 2019
The raging fires have reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds of koalas in the Port Macquarie region, where Lewis was saved.
Should Lewis be too injured to return to the the wild, he will join the breeding program to help conserve his “functionally extinct” species, the outlet said.