Australian Soldiers Care For Koalas Rescued From Bushfires

(CBS) — We all have 24 hours in a day, but some people spend their time better than others. Soldiers with the Australian Army have been using their downtime to help rescued koalas.

The soldiers from the Army’s 9th brigade have been cuddling koalas during their feeding time at Cleland Wildlife Park, near the city of Adelaide, according to a post on the brigade’s Facebook page. The koalas were transported there from Kangaroo Island, which was devastated by the bushfires that ravaged the continent in recent months.

“16 Regiment Emergency Support Force have been using their rest periods to lend a helping hand at the Cleland Wildlife Park,” the post said, “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.”

Kangaroo Island has been called “Noah’s Ark” because of its unique ecology, BBC News reports. However, there are now fears Kangaroo Island may never fully recover from the wildfires.

Sam Mitchell, who runs the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, said that as flames approached last month, most people evacuated — but his family couldn’t leave the animals behind.

“You can’t move 800 animals including water buffaloes, ostriches and cassowaries [an ostrich-like bird],” he told BBC News. “We decided that if we can’t move them we’ll see if we can save them. We had the army helping us. Somehow, we were spared. It burnt right around us.”

It is estimated that half of the 50,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island died in the fires. Many of those that survived were brought to the wildlife park, where a makeshift clinic was set up, BBC News reports.

To read the full CBS News article, click here.

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