Bushfire koala ‘Lewis’ dies in hospital


The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital shared the heartbreaking news this afternoon, saying staff had made the decision earlier today to put him to sleep.

“We placed him under general anaesthesia this morning to assess his burns injuries and change the bandages,” the hospital said in a post at about 2.30pm.

It stated Lewis’s burns got worse “and unfortunately would not have gotten better”.

More than 1000 people had commented on the post in less than an hour, thanking staff for caring for Lewis and dozens of other koalas.

The hospital in return thanked the community for their support, with their GoFundMe page having reached more than $1.66 million in donations by Tuesday afternoon.

Picture: Facebook/Koala Hospital Port MacquarieSource:Facebook

Grandmother Toni Doherty was last week filmed ripping the shirt off her back near Long Flat in NSW to save the injured and wailing koala.

The 14-year-old had suffered burns to his feet, chest and stomach.

Named “Ellenborough Lewis” after Toni’s grandchild, or Lewis for short, he had been receiving around-the-clock care by long-term home care volunteer and koala hospital supervisor, Barb.

“Barb hand feeds Lewis a single leaf at a time, with feeding taking up to an hour a feed,” the hospital said in an update on Friday.

“Lewis’s prognosis is guarded as he sustained significant burns however he is receiving the best possible care.”

He was one of 31 koalas brought to the hospital from firegrounds in the surrounding area.

Ellenborough Lewis was doused in water. Picture: 9 News

Ellenborough Lewis was doused in water. Picture: 9 NewsSource:Channel 9

Toni’s husband Peter Doherty told Nine the couple “were there this morning” when Lewis died.

“We are naturally very sad about this, as we were hoping he’d pull through but we accept his injuries were severe and debilitating and would have been quite painful,” Mr Doherty said.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares inland from the coast have been scorched including vital koala habitat in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve which surrounds the town.

An estimated 350 koalas were killed as a result however wildlife rescuers yesterday said they fear a “much worse” toll of about 1000 koalas across NSW, Queensland and South Australia.

Peter the koala is recovering. Picture: Facebook/Koala Hospital Port Macquarie

Peter the koala is recovering. Picture: Facebook/Koala Hospital Port MacquarieSource:Facebook

The hospital is part of a not-for-profit organisation established in 1973 and operates with four paid staff and about 140 volunteers, according to its website.

It has a treatment room, eight intensive care units, six outdoor intensive care units and 33 rehabilitation yards and handles between 200 and 250 koalas each year.

The “generous donations” have resulted in an extension of its drinking stations project across a larger area of koala habitat in NSW and to benefit other wildlife in those regions.

A water-carrying vehicle will also be used to replenish the drinking stations.



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