An Australian woman who risked her own life to rescue an injured koala crawling through a major bushfire in New South Wales, Australia, was reunited with the animal this week, Nine News Australia reports.
Toni Doherty, a grandmother of seven, was seen in a viral video earlier this week using the shirt off her back to pull the crying animal off a burning tree near the town of Long Flat as bushfires raged across the countryside. Doherty and the koala, who was named 'Lewis' after one of Doherty's grandchildren, were reunited at Port Macquarie's Koala Hospital on Wednesday.
Lewis' caretakers say he was badly burned in the fire, and required bandages on his paws and plenty of fluids. However, doctors are optimistic for the koala's recovery, even after his fiery ordeal.
"He's got really badly burnt hands and feet," Cheyne Flanagan, at Port Macquarie hospital told the news outlet. "He's got burns under his arms, his nose is burnt."
Doherty told Nine News that she didn't think twice when she saw Lewis in trouble.
"It's just natural instinct," Doherty said. "I knew if we didn't get him down from the tree then, he would burn up there amongst the flames."
The koala hospital isn't just caring for Lewis, there are multiple koala victims being treated at the koala hospital at Port Macquarie
Unfortunately, even for the koalas who survived the bushfire, their survival isn't guaranteed. The fires in Australia have already burned one-third of the koala habitat located near Port Macquarie.
"The woman's a legend, just a legend," Flanagan said of Doherty. "No other word for it."
Lewis continues to recover from his injuries, but if the caretakers judge he can't return to the wild, there's a place for him in a breeding program designed for koalas.