Australian Soldiers Spend Time Off From Fighting Fires Snuggling Koalas
The country has lost over a billion animals in brush fires. These kinds souls are helping the ones that survived.
While the bushfires in Australia continue to burn near the country's capital and in New South Wales, the number of fires has gone down drastically. Some areas are even starting to see signs of new life as flowers and plants have bloomed out of the ashes.
Thousands of people in the country have been on the front lines fighting the blazes, including 3,000 reserve soldiers that were called up by Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, earlier this month.
The 16th Regiment Emergency Support Force is part of those reserves, and they recently got a little time off from their duties. Instead of kicking back and putting their feet up, they've been using their well-deserved recess to continue helping the country to recover.
Last week, the 9th Brigade of the Australian Army shared a Facebook post with photos of service members snuggling burned koalas in blankets and feeding milk to infant kangaroos out of tiny syringes.
The post read, "16 Regiment Emergency Support Force have been using their rest periods to lend a helping hand at the Cleland Wildlife Park, supporting our furry friends during feeding time and by building climbing mounts inside the park. A great morale boost for our hard-working team in the Adelaide Hills."
The post has since been shared over 44,000 times, with over 24K reactions and thousands of comments from all over the globe.
Arlene Davies wrote, "There you go, another photo showing Aussies sticking together to help anyway they can. Great work fellows and gals. The future will be ours. The animals will never forget this. The kindness of people."
The troops have been assisting the vets in other ways during the fires, and their new role as "koala snugglers" is a welcome change.
"It's been really enjoyable to have private soldiers who were attached to the vet team as drivers, but I actually have been using them as veterinary assistants, and it's been so helpful to have an extra set of hands to help hold animals and to let me treat their wounds. It's been great and they've absolutely loved it," Captain Garnett Hall, the Director and Veterinarian at the West Coast Veterinary Hospital in Perth, said in a video posted on the Australian Army's YouTube channel.
The 9th Brigade also sent troops to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to help animals that were affected by the fires.
While Captain Hall says the picture is grim for wildlife affected by the fire – a staggering 1 billion animals are thought to have died – it's heartening to hear stories of people "starting something good" by helping any way they can.