Koala in Australian wildfire (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Koala in Australian wildfire (Shutterstock)

An Israeli zoo sent assistance to koalas and other indigenous animals as Australia faces apocalyptic fires that have killed an estimated 480 million creatures thus far.

By Tsivya Fox-Dobuler

The Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem is donating veterinary medical supplies to Australia in light of the apocalyptic wildfires that have ravaged the country since September. Included in the relief packages are burn creams, milk replacements, wound sprays and hydration concentrates, according to a statement released on Sunday.

“Australians are extremely grateful for Israel’s assistance,” Tania Hammer, an Australian native who lives in Jerusalem, told United with Israel (UWI).

“While Australian hospitals are very advanced in bush fire care,” Hammer added, “the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is taking action to help rescue our animals and wildlife. This assistance will be a huge help in rehabilitating our weakest animals who need specific rehabilitation.”

When natural disasters strike throughout the world, Israel is often the first country on the ground providing first responders and immediate disaster relief.

In Australia during the fires, temperatures have been ranged from 45C (113F) to 48.9C (120F), according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

“In a normal year, we would start to see the fire season kick off in a big way around early January and we’re already up towards a million hectares of burnt country,” Andy Gillham, the incident controller in the Victorian town of Bairnsdale, said, according to Reuters. “This is a marathon event, and we expect to be busy managing these fires for at least the next eight weeks.”

Hammer, whose parents live in Sidney, said they are not on the frontlines. However, due to the heavy pollution created by Australia’s worst fires in its history, they have been forced for several months to remain inside to avoid the toxic air.

“They go from their indoor garage to the indoor mall, gym, theater … but what was once a favorite daily activity, walking in the fresh air, has become dangerous,” she said.

The fires have killed 24 people and an estimated 480 million animals, with the latter figure provided by Prof. Chris Dickman, described by the BBC as “an expert on Australian biodiversity at the University of Sydney.”

The fires have destroyed thousands of homes and ravished unspeakable amounts of vegetation, often needed to supply wildlife with food and shelter.

Mobs of kangaroos were filmed fleeing across the Monaro plains in New South Wales. The koala population has also been hit hard, as they move slowly.

Additionally, Australia’s unique ecosystem might be irreparably damaged by the fires, causing extinction to many species only found in the country.

“Australian zoos are scrambling to save all the koalas and other indigenous animals, as some can’t survive in other locations,” Hammer said. “When the fires are over, massive campaigns to plant the only gum trees our koalas eat will be a top priority. There are thousands of types of different gum trees, but, koalas only eat one type.”

The veterinary medical supplies from Jerusalem are earmarked for use in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.