The wildfires currently burning in Australia have already caused unprecedented devastation, and they are only expected to continue, with authorities predicting that the fires could continue burning for months. It is estimated that around 1 billion animals across the country have died, and millions more will likely be affected as the blazes continue.
Speaking to Australian morning show Sunrise, Robert Irwin and his mom, Terri Irwin, discussed how they are helping the affected animals as best they can, working with the team at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to get the animals back to good health.
"We're seeing all kinds of different injuries," Robert said, fighting back tears. "Obviously smoke inhalation and burns are happening frequently, but also animals are going into areas where they're not supposed to be to escape the horrific conditions."
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"This means they're getting hit by cars and are being attacked by domestic animals, so there's a horrific knock on effect," he added. "It's definitely an ongoing issue and we're just trying to do our best to help in any way we can. It's a pretty tough situation. We're absolutely heartbroken."
"We're able to offer a safe haven for wildlife needing help," Terri shared.
Among the many species of animals affected are koalas, an estimated 25,000 of whom have been killed in the fires, including one third of koalas in New South Wales, which has been the most affected area.
"Koala instinct is to go up, as safety is in the top of the tree," Terri explained. "Eucalyptus trees have so much oil that they ignite and actually explode in a fire. That means being able to treat and help koalas is few and far between because they're basically incinerated."
"Koalas are classed as vulnerable, and I think after this event, we need to really sit down and look at classing them as endangered and protecting our icons," she continued. "Our kangaroos, our koalas, [they are] inspirational to Australians as well as our visitors from overseas."
On Instagram, Robert shared a screenshot of an article stating that his family has helped rescue 90,000 animals affected by the fires.
"Proud to be one of the many who are coming together to try to affect some positive change during this incredibly difficult time," the 16-year-old wrote. "We're here to help where we can for wildlife and to treat the survivors. Again, my greatest thank you goes to Australia's incredible firefighters. If there's anyone who can band together and lend a hand in crisis, it's Australians."
Photo Credit: Getty / Gary Gershoff