Over the past few days, dozens of stuffed koalas have been appearing all over NYC as a tribute and donation generator to the millions of animals killed in the Australian wildfires since September.
As Australia continues to fight the devastating bushfires that have wiped out scores of its unique wildlife, individuals and organizations across the world are coming to their aid. New York City has now come up with a creative means to raise awareness about the sovereign nation's plight, urging people to donate towards the cause and help our neighbors down under save their motherland and all its inhabitants. Over the past few days, dozens of stuffed koalas have been appearing all over NYC in a tribute to the millions of animals killed in the wildfires.
"Friday morning at the crack of dawn, the @cumminsandpartners__nyc team and I rented a van and drove all over NYC to place dozens of stuffed koala plush toys to poles and trees to help spread awareness about this tragedy," freelance photographer Jeremy Cohen wrote on Instagram, sharing pictures of the adorable koala plushes at different spots in New York City.
"Attached to the koalas is a QR code that directs every passerby to the Koalas of NYC Gofundme page to spread awareness and raise money for @wireswildliferescue (Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service)," Cohen added.
According to the Koalas of NYC GoFundMe page, the fundraiser aims to raise "awareness and money from New York City—home to so many Australians who want to do everything they can from far away to help save their beloved country and its beautiful and endangered wildlife from the Australian Bushfires that are sweeping the continent."
As of the time of writing this article, the GoFundMe has raised over $11,300, all of which will go to Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service. WIRES is "the largest wildlife rescue & rehabilitation charity in Australia. It is a non-profit organization providing rescue and rehabilitation for all native Australian fauna."
"All animal rescuers and carers are volunteers and operate 365 days a year assisting the community to help native animals in distress. WIRES' mission is to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife and inspire others to do the same," the GoFundMe states. According to NBC News, roughly 30,000 koalas are believed to have been killed or injured in the Australia bushfires.
Speaking to The Guardian, the co-owner of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, Sam Mitchell revealed that prior to the fires that started in early-September, koala numbers had grown as high as 50,000. He now feared that "probably more than half" of the nation's koalas may have perished in the flames, adding that at this point, it was just "a guessing game."
Meanwhile, the diminishing koala population also raises concerns about Australia's travel and tourism industry, given the marsupial's cultural status and international fame. Speaking to ABC News, Dr. Roslyn Irwin, President of Friends of the Koala, said, "Koalas have been around for the same length of time as the first Australians - possibly longer. They’ve been a strong feature in our landscape for a while now, and people really value that."
Explaining how the overwhelming number of koalas killed in the fires would impact Australia's tourism industry, Deborah Tabart, the chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, said, "Australia will be losing millions of dollars. Koalas bring in 3.2 billion per year from tourists hoping to see some. They are huge economic generators."