Koala love story wins hearts after deadly Aussie fires

Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:34am EST
 
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A love story between two badly burned koalas rescued from Australia's deadliest bushfires has provided some heart-warming relief after days of devastation and the loss of over 180 lives.

The story of Sam and her new boyfriend Bob emerged after volunteer firefighter Dave Tree used a mobile phone to film the rescue of the bewildered female found cowering in a burned out forest at Mirboo North, 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Melbourne.

Photos and a video of Tree, 44, approaching Sam while talking gently to her, and feeding her water from a plastic bottle as she put her burned claw in his cold, wet hand quickly hit video sharing website YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XSPx7S4jr4), making her an Internet sensation.

But it was after reaching a wildlife shelter that Sam met and befriended Bob, who was saved by wildlife workers on Friday, two days before Sam, in Boolarra, about 180 km from Melbourne.

Tree, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years, said it was extremely rare to get so close to a koala so he asked his colleague Brayden Groen, 20, to film him.

"You can how she stops and moves forward and looks at me. It was like a look saying "I can't run, I'm weak and sore, put me out of my misery,"" Tree told Reuters.

"I yelled out for some water and I sat down with her and tipped the water up. It was in my hand and she reached for the bottle then put her right claw into my left hand which was cold so it must have given her some pain relief and she just left it there. It was just amazing."

INSPIRING LOVE STORY   Continued...

 
<p>A koala named Sam is given a drink of water by Country Fire Authority volunteer fire fighter Dave Tree as he rescued her after deadly fires swept through the area of Mirboo North, about 120km (75 miles) southeast of Melbourne, February 8, 2009. Sam, a bewildered and badly burned koala, has emerged from the ashes of Australia's deadliest bushfires, a small beacon of hope after days of devastation and the loss of more than 180 lives. REUTERS/Mark Pardew</p>