Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sam the koala & firefighter David Tree - Wow!
Our Mom got very emotional reading this story & then hugged us all like crazy after she read it. Grab some kleenex for your Bean & run under your beds - You Bean is gonna hug you lots after reading this.
SYDNEY – "Sam" the koala, the most famous furry survivor of Australia's worst-ever wildfires, is healing well thanks to the efforts of caretakers at a rescue shelter — and she even has a new boyfriend, "Bob."
Sam, who captured hearts around the world after she was photographed drinking from a firefighter's water bottle, has also won the affection of "Bob," another koala whose paws were scorched in the weekend's inferno, caretaker Lynn Raymond said Thursday.
"Bob is her protector — as soon as she is moved, he's on the move, too. It really looks like he's making sure she's OK," Raymond said from the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, 100 miles (170 kilometers) east of Melbourne in Victoria state, where the deadly fires continue to burn. "They're good company for each other."
Neither koala is likely to be healthy enough for release for at least four months, and are being comforted by caretakers who salve their scorched paws every few hours.
Global interest in the fate of Sam has been intense since a photograph of firefighter David Tree offering her a bottle of water in a burned-out forest was splashed across the Internet, in newspapers and on television broadcasts. The telephone at the shelter has rung incessantly with callers eager for an update on the creature's condition.
"It's insane," Raymond said with a laugh. "(But) everybody has been absolutely wonderful."
Sam was found moving gingerly on scorched paws by a fire patrol Sunday. Tree crouched down and held out a bottle of water for her to drink, which she eagerly accepted, holding Tree's hand as he poured water into her mouth.
"You all right, buddy?" Tree asks in a video of the encounter as he approaches the koala. Later, as Sam gulps from the bottle, he quips: "How much can a koala bear?"
Often mistakenly called koala bears because they resemble a child's teddy bear, the marsupial is actually a somewhat ornery creature with a loud growl and sharp claws.
Sam, who suffered second- and third-degree burns to her paws, has been sharing a cage with Bob, who took an immediate interest in her when she arrived on Sunday, Raymond said.
Both Sam and Bob were given painkillers when they first arrived, but they're off the drugs now, Raymond said. The two are still receiving antibiotics and have their bandages changed regularly to stave off infections.
The koalas are likely to be in the shelter at least four months, depending on how quickly their burns heal, Raymond said. For now, though, the famously thirsty marsupial appears to be on the mend.
"I'm just looking at Sam now — she is fast asleep," Raymond said. "She's doing very, very well."
~ By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press Writer