Last winter, before the world’s attention turned to the coronavirus pandemic, our eyes were on Australia as wildfires raged throughout the country. Native Aussie David Thomas, a Worldwide Contractor for O.A.T., visited the island to personally assess the need and determine how best to help.

Grand Circle Foundation donated $25,000 to aid the people and wildlife of Kangaroo Island, an area particularly hard-hit by fires. We appealed to our donors and travelers to join us in giving, and raised an additional $114,634 for relief efforts. Our total gift of $139,634 was divided between the Kangaroo Island Mayoral Bushfire Relief fund, which assisted local people in need, and Zoos Victoria, which operates Healesville Sanctuary.

In the wake of the fires, Healesville cared for more than 100 injured koalas, in addition to other animals in need of care. Koalas were especially vulnerable for two reasons: they are slow moving, and the trees upon which they feed were already ravaged by drought and made quick fuel for the fires. More than 1,000 koalas perished.

In late April, we received the following update from Healesville—in addition to the video posted above. Thanks to all of our generous donors who helped make this bit of good news possible.

It has been four months since the devastating bushfires across Australia, but there is some good news for the rescued koalas still receiving treatment at the Sanctuary’s Australian Wildlife Health Centre: Roger and Leafy, who were rescued from Mallacoota, and orphaned babies Rain and Toby, who have become fast friends.

“We were so busy,” recalls Senior Veterinarian Leanne Wicker. “We had all these animals, some of them orphans, needing milk feeding multiple times a day, with these terrible burns on their feet and ears.

“The whole time we had our hearts in our mouths, hoping each time we removed the bandages we would see an improvement.

“I think it was life changing for so many of us,” said Dr. Wicker. “And pretty heart-breaking at times. But also really wonderful that we were able to put our skills and experience to use.”

Dr. Wicker is hopeful for the koalas still receiving care.

“Roger and Leafy are doing really well, and we hope to move them to Phillip Island Nature Parks for the next stage in their rehabilitation soon.

“The two beautiful little orphans Toby and Rain, are really good friends and we are loving watching them go from strength to strength.”