Billy was discovered hanging to a tree in a property in Adelaide Hills, Australia, surrounded by fires. He was clearly in need of assistance, and as his rescuers yanked him from the tree, he let out a loud cry before settling down and snuggling up in his carrier, as if he realized aid had finally arrived.
Lucy and Adam Francis, who work with 1300Koalaz to rescue and rehabilitate wounded koalas, took Billy in. They’ve had their job cut out for them recently, with roughly a billion animals damaged by the wildfires that have raged throughout Australia since September. Billy was no exception, as all four of his paws were severely burned.
“Because his paws were all bandaged, he couldn’t climb or be in the regular type of cage that we use for koalas in care,” Lucy Francis told The Dodo. “So we had to think outside the box and constructed a makeshift enclosure for him in our kitchen so we could be close to him at all times.” “We sat him on a camping mattress and put a pillow behind him so he could lean back in because sitting in a natural koala position was tough for him.” He was visibly shaken, terrified, and caked in smoke and ash from the fire.”
Billy was a giant koala, and the couple was concerned that caring for him would be tough. Billy appeared despondent when he initially arrived in their care because he had previously been through so much, but he was one of the nicest, gentlest koalas the couple had ever seen from the start.
“When Billy initially arrived to us, he smelled and kissed my husband’s hand softly instead of biting it if he had been a different-tempered koala,” Francis explained. “We have a really strong connection with him, and while still being a wild koala, he allows us to handle him as we need to and definitely trusts us.”
The pair chatted calmly to Billy and gently caressed his fur whenever they needed to transfer him or give him medicine in order to build his confidence, and they were amazed by how well he handled it all. He appeared to know he was in excellent hands from the time he was rescued, and even though he was in excruciating agony, he trusted his new companions to look after him and do everything they could to make him healthy again.
“Even when we have to put cream into his sores and burns, or administer his vitamin cocktail — which we’re quite sure he dislikes,” Francis explained, “it’s like giving a very hairy, hesitant child its medicine.” “When we apply lotion to his coccyx burn, he clutches our hands with his rear paws.”
Billy was so frail when he was initially rescued that he couldn’t even feed himself, and his caregivers had to give him additional food and vitamins to help him recuperate. Billy, on the other hand, is becoming stronger every day, and the pair can see how much happier he is as his health improves.
Billy won’t be ready to be put back into the wild for a long, but he’s pleased to be able to relax and mend somewhere secure in the meanwhile. It will be a wonderful — but yet heartbreaking — day when he is finally ready to depart.
“We can’t wait to see him completely heal and release him in a huge magnificent gum tree one day,” Francis added, “even if he’ll leave a very big Billy-shaped hole in our home and in our hearts.”