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Sam the koala and other Australian animals receive treatment for fire-related injuries

February 12, 2009 |  3:51 pm

Sam the koala shares a hug with her boyfriend Bob

Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter staffer Lynn Raymond said today that the sanctuary's most famous patient, Sam the koala, is "doing very, very well."

Sam and her friend Bob, another koala who was injured in the fires, have their burned paws soothed with salve every few hours.  They're no longer receiving painkillers, as they were when they were first brought to the sanctuary, but are still on antibiotics.  And the two are inseparable, according to the Associated Press:

"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."

The sanctuary's phone has been ringing off the hook with requests for information on the koalas' condition.  "It's insane," said Raymond. "[But] everybody has been absolutely wonderful." 

David Tree, the volunteer firefighter who gave Sam a drink of water in the now-iconic photograph of her rescue, says he plans to donate his 11-year-old daughter's canary cage to the needy koala.  ("We'll worry about the canary later," he said of the cage's current resident.) 

Other tales of the horrific effects of the fires on Australia's wildlife have begun to emerge -- a wallaby joey with "crispy fried ears" (Wildlife Victoria president Jon Rowdon's description), a turtle whose shell nearly melted from the heat -- and rescuers have set up vaporizing tents for the animals suffering from smoke inhalation. For more photos of Sam and other rescued animals, see the Times' Australian wildlife photo gallery.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Sam, the koala photographed getting a drink of water from a fireman, is on the road to recovery

Photo: Sam, right, and Bob share a moment.  Credit: Associated Press

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