Koala Ellenborough Lewis dies after viral rescue from bushfire

A koala whose viral rescue drew the world’s attention to devastating Australian bushfires has died. 

Veterinarians put Ellenborough Lewis to sleep on Tuesday because he couldn’t recover from his injuries, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital said in a Facebook post. 

“We recently posted that ‘burn injuries can get worse before they get better,'” the hospital wrote. “In Ellenborough Lewis’s case, the burns did get worse, and unfortunately would not have gotten better. The Koala Hospital’s number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made.”

Staff put him to sleep after examining the severe burns on the koala’s hands, feet, arms and legs Tuesday morning, the hospital said. He had been receiving round-the-clock care and “substantial pain relief” since his rescue last week. 

A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie on November 2, 2019, after its rescue from a bushfire that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares.

Bushfires raging through eastern Australia in recent weeks have killed at least six people and destroyed hundreds of homes, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported. Dozens of fires are still burning with no relief in sight. The blazes have also killed hundreds of koalas and laid to waste thousands of acres of habitat that could land the cuddly Aussie icons on the endangered species list.

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