Koalas sew need you this summer

UPDATE January 11 2015:

Our call for koala mittens has been incredibly successful and we are now being inundated with mittens from thoughtful people all over Australia and as far afield as Europe, Canada and the US!

Thank you to everyone who has dedicated their time to help we are incredibly grateful. We have had such a great response we now have plenty of mittens available. So now we would like to turn our attention to other Australian native wildlife like possums, kangaroos and wallabies are also at risk. Many are orphaned as a result of fires and come into care.

These joeys need to be kept warm and quiet in a ‘pouch’ like environment so carers use sewn pouches. Pouches are changed regularly after each feeding and up to six pouches can be used per animal each day. So if someone has a few animals in care this can amount to a lot of pouches in the wash each day! With regular washing and daily wear and tear plenty of pouches are needed.

Due to the high cost of shipping internationally, we asking people outside of Australia who still want to help to consider donating to IFAW or signing up for emails so they can be alerted of opportunities to help animals in the future.

For people in Australia, we have very simple instructions on how to sew pouch liners here. This is what the pouches look like:

Send your sewn pouches to IFAW at 6 Belmore Street, Surry Hills 2010

Once rescued koalas are really docile creatures who will sit still and let you treat them. Photo John PaoloniImagine the cry of a baby koala, separated from its mother through the haze of bushfire smoke. Koalas are one of the worst casualties of bushfires. On a normal day, they spend about 18 hours asleep in the fork of a tree and even when fully awake, they are slow-moving creatures with a top speed of only 10 kilometres an hour.

In a fast moving fire front, they are often the first to perish.

Injuries to paws, claws, face and ears are common and tiny joeys can often only wait in burning trees, crying for their mothers. I’ve worked with wildlife rescuers after fires and they tell me about seeing koala babies actually sitting in the trees crying.

It’s so sad...

They just sit there and wait to be rescued. If their paws are burned, they can’t grip and are at risk of falling out of the tree and while koalas can bite and scratch, once rescued, they are really docile creatures who will sit still and let you treat them.

No other species is like that. When we work with other species like possums, they are so frightened, they will actively fight their carers.

We have already seen rescued koalas coming into care in South Australia and Victoria during the recent devastating fires, but the good news is IFAW plans to supply special equipment to vets and wildlife carers who treat koalas.

Koalas with burns to their paws need to have them treated with burn cream and wrapped in bandages. They then need special cotton mittens to cover the dressings. All this needs changing daily so we’re asking if you can help us by sewing koala mittens – as many as they can before the fire season truly hits.

Click here for a special pattern for a special pattern and make your mittens from clean 100% cotton.

Old sheets, tea towels or cotton t-shirts are ideal.

Each mitten takes only minutes to make, even if you are not an experienced sewer.

Send your mittens to IFAW at 6 Belmore Street, Surry Hills 2010

and IFAWwill distribute them to vets and wildlife carers, throughout Australia, who treat koalas.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy