Koalas sew need you this summer

archive photo © IFAW
Wednesday, 7 January, 2015
Sydney, AU

IFAW, (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) is appealing for help for koalas injured in the South Australian and Victorian bushfires.

Slow-moving koalas have been the sad victims of bushfires in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales during fierce wildfires over the past week. We expect koalas may come into the care of wildlife groups as the fire grounds are opened up to rescuers searching for injured animals.

Already koalas have come into care in Victoria and in South Australia firefighters and members of the public are reported to have helped displaced and exhausted koalas by providing water and a respite from the heat. In NSW, most of an area of prime koala habitat (home to 35 of the area’s approximately 143 animals) was destroyed by fire at Pottsville on the Tweed Coast. Four koalas were reported rescued from this area.

So now IFAW is asking people for a special gift for koalas who have been caught in fires – mittens!  Many koalas perish in bushfires, while the lucky ones that survive are often badly injured and need intensive treatment by vets and dedicated wildlife carers.  Injured koalas typically come into care with severe burns, especially on their paws, caused by contact with burning trees or from fleeing across fire grounds. These injuries need treatment with burns cream and paws need to be protected with special cotton mittens.

Josey Sharrad, IFAW native wildlife campaigner said a plentiful supply of these mittens is needed throughout the bushfire season.  “Just like any burns victim, koalas’ dressings need changing daily, meaning a constant supply of mittens is needed by wildlife carers.  Some burned koalas can take up to a year to fully recover” she said.

That’s where you come in. IFAW is asking the public to make koala mittens from scraps of clean, 100% cotton fabric.

“Maybe you have some old cotton sheets or tea towels – just check that the material is 100% cotton,” Josey Sharrad said.   “These mittens are simple to make even if you’ve never sewn before. Just check out IFAW’s koala mitten pattern.”

Send your mittens to IFAW, 6 Belmore Street, Surry Hills 2010 and we will distribute them where they are most needed:  to the vets, vet nurses and wildlife carers who help our native wildlife in times of crisis.


Notes for editors:  A demonstration of how the koala mittens are used will be held in Adelaide, SA and Port Macquarie, NSW tomorrow (Thursday). Koalas wearing specially made koala mittens are available for filming at Adelaide Koala and Wildlife Hospital from 10am at 282 Anzac Highway, Plympton SA on Thursday 8 January and at 10am at the Koala Hospital at Lord Street, Macquarie Nature Reserve, Port Macquarie, New South Wales. Photographs of koalas in care and koalas affected by bushfire are available by calling 0478 224 020.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare). Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Jilea Carney (IFAW AU)
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0478 224 020
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