In heartbreaking news, Lewis the koala has been put down after the damage from bushfire-sustained burns was too great.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital made the heartbreaking announcement today.
“Today we made the decision to put Ellenborough Lewis to sleep,” the hospital said.
“We placed him under general anaesthesia this morning to assess his burns injuries and change the bandages.
“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.”
Lewis sustained burns to his hands, feet, arms and inside of his legs, before being rescued by Port Macquarie woman Toni Doherty. (Lewis is named after her grandson.)
He was receiving round-the-clock care at the hospital and was on “substantial” pain relief, but sadly his injuries were too great.
“At the Koala Hospital we do not keep koalas alive ‘to save their lives’ if this means pain and discomfort that is too much,” the hospital said.
According to Dr Chris Brown, any koala with burns to more than 15 percent of their body carries a guarded prognosis, and Lewis sustained more than that.
“Tragically, the tissue damage from his extensive burns was even deeper and worsened in the days since his rescue,” Brown said on Instagram.
“This is sadly all too common.”
It’s estimated more than 300 koalas have died in the recent NSW and Queensland bushfires, while there are estimates more than 1,000 of them have been killed in the past two months.
The deaths and loss of natural habitat led to experts declaring koalas “functionally extinct” in NSW, meaning a population is no longer viable in the ecosystem.
Lewis had “come to symbolise the struggle all koalas are facing on the east coast in the face of drought, bushfires and climate change,” Brown said.
“RIP little man. We’ll miss you but your legacy will live on. Your story should inspire us all to put aside politics and save your species.”
RIP Lewis. </3