The thirsty koala gladly drank the bottled water as a heroic firefighter took the time to feed it directly to the displaced animal

By Benjamin VanHoose
December 23, 2019 03:29 PM
Advertisement

Rescue teams captured a sweetly intimate moment between one firefighter and a displaced koala amid the horrific brushfires in Southern Australia.

Pausing from his heroic efforts to stifle the brushfires, the brave firefighter poured a bottle of water into a seated koala’s mouth as the wild animal gladly chugged the drink. The thirsty koala pawed at the empty bottle when the firefighter pulled it away, appearing to be amused by the plastic vessel.

The touching moment played out as smoke filled the nearby wooded area behind them, with emergency crews working together to reduce the flames.

According to the North East Forest Alliance, more than 2,000 total koalas — which aren’t fast enough to flee burning environments — have perished in the fires, with up to one-third of the animal’s habitats lost on the northern coast of New South Wales, The Guardian reports.

Australia fires
David Gray/Getty

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Caused by a heatwave in Australia, among other factors, the brushfires have proven to be devastating for the local wildlife.

“When you have very hot, dry, windy conditions, if all of those things come together, a fire can get quickly out of control,” a spokesperson for the Climate Council of Australia, told Time. “As the climate is warming up, we’re getting more and more extreme hot days and currently, of course, Australia is in the grip of probably unprecedented heatwave conditions almost right across the continent.”

A seven-day state of emergency was declared on Thursday. More than 7.4 million acres have already burned, displacing more than 800 people from their homes and killing six, the Associated Press reported.

Koala

Last month, an injured koala tragically died despite being rescued from the fires by a brave woman.

The koala, known as Lewis, was saved by Toni Doherty in a dramatic rescue caught on video. In the footage, Doherty ran into the burning bushland from her car, immediately wrapping the koala in the shirt off her own back.

After getting the marsupial to safety, she poured water all over the koala to cool its burns before taking him to a local animal hospital.

“Today we made the decision to put Ellenborough Lewis to sleep,” the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital said in a statement on Facebook at the time.

“We placed him under general anesthesia this morning to assess his burns injuries and change the bandages,” the statement continued. “We recently posted that ‘burns injuries can get worse before they get better.’ In Ellenborough Lewis’s case, the burns did get worse, and unfortunately would not have gotten better.”

Last month, the hospital started a GoFundMe page with hopes of raising $25,000 to help treat koalas who had been rescued from the wildfires — and as of Monday, they’ve raised more than $2.1 million.