The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Australia started a GoFundMe page with a target of $25,000.
Over the past few weeks, bushfires have ravaged Australia's east coast, impacting a large part of prime koala habitat. Experts believe as many as 350 koalas were killed by the bushfires. Many more koalas have been left severely dehydrated and fighting for their lives. With this in mind, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Australia created a fundraiser on GoFundMe in order to raise money to help the poor animals affected by the devastating bushfires. The hospital had a goal of $25,000, and they sure beat it. So far, they've already raised over $1.6 million dollars, PEOPLE reports.
The GoFundMe page was created on October 31. In less than a month, the hospital has surpassed its goal with the help of kind donors from across the world. In response to the overflowing compassion that the hospital — and, of course, the koalas — has received, Port Macquarie stated, "The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has been overwhelmed by the kindness, good wishes, and support from the Australian and international community for the wildlife icon, the koala." Because of the overwhelming amount earned in donations, the hospital has decided to expand its outreach program to help more koalas than they initially targeted.
The hospital is already working with 31 koalas found at the various sites that the bushfires have ravaged. Once a koala is brought in to Port Macquarie, it is rehydrated and then examined for burns the following day. If the doctors find any burns, they are treated immediately with burn cream before they are bandaged. Every three days, the dressings are changed. In addition to this, the hospital has planned to install drinking stations for the koalas "in the burnt areas to help in koala and wildlife survival."
Most koalas rely on moisture from eucalyptus to keep hydrated. Sadly, the bushfires destroyed much of the eucalyptus available to the wildlife. Therefore, the number of drinking stations being built has been increased. According to Port Macquarie, "They will be shared with other wildlife organizations in fire-affected regions across New South Wales. Two are being built for dispatch to the northern rivers fire area next week. We are also purchasing a water-carrying vehicle with fire fighting capabilities to replenish the drinking stations with water as needed." Furthermore, the hospital will also build a "Koala Ark," which is a facility where surviving koalas can be accommodated in a healthy habitat area.
To add to all of that, the hospital is also developing a wild koala breeding program. While koalas are not extinct, their future is in danger. The koala population is declining and vulnerable, but not endangered just yet. As per Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, the bushfires have made a considerable dent in the size of the koala population. "They’re in a lot of trouble," he said in an interview with The New York Times. "And they need our care and our help if they’re going to survive." Therefore, Port Macquarie is taking crucial action at an imperative point in time. If you'd like to make a donation, you can visit the hospital's GoFundMe page here.