These Injured Koalas Really Need Your Mittens [UPDATED]

Recent wildfires in Australia have left many marsupials with burned paws.

A koala named Jeremy receives treatment for burned paws. (Photo: @telegraph/Twitter/Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organisation)

Jan 8, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

If you can’t sew, now would be a good time to learn.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has put out a plea for cotton mittens to help recovering koalas whose paws were burned during recent bushfires in Australia. The organization doesn’t know how many injured koalas to anticipate this season, but it’s preparing for an influx.

Much as doctors do with humans, vets treat marsupial burn injuries with cream and bandages.

“[Koalas] then need special cotton mittens to cover the dressings,” explains IFAW Australia’s Josey Sharrad on the organization’s website. “All this needs changing daily, so we’re asking if you can help us by sewing koala mittens—as many as [you] can before the fire season truly hits.”

Summer kicked off in December in Australia. Thanks to record heat—the country experienced its third-warmest year on record in 2014—bushfires have blazed through many regions. About 31,000 acres in Adelaide in South Australia have been burned since a bushfire started last week, injuring at least 29 people. High temperatures have been forcing koalas out of the woods, but many of the slow-moving marsupials fail to escape the flames.

(Photo: International Fund for Animal Welfare)

According to BBC News, koalas and hundreds of other animals have died in the Adelaide bushfires. Aaron Machado, president of the Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organization, said that koalas left on their own face starvation and infection.

“Koalas don’t have immune systems, so the risk of death from infection is very high,” he told BBC News. “They get to a point where they are in so much pain…they just sit at the bottom of a tree and scream.”

Four of the furry marsupials were rescued from another fire in New South Wales, and two are being treated in Victoria, reported ABC. Those badly burned are euthanized.

Australian environmentalists say that the government, which has been slow to respond to climate change concerns, should take the extreme weather events as a call to action. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty, which has been treating critters in Australia injured by fires, has spoken out about the impact of global warming on animals.

For now, making and sending mittens to the IFAW could be the least people can do for the recovering koalas.

UPDATED Jan. 22, 2015

People from all over the world have sent IFAW enough mittens for the koalas. Those who want to help out are asked to consider donating instead.