Together for Wildlife

San Diego Zoo Global is raising vital emergency funds for Australia's wildlife. Our experts are on the ground rescuing animals that have been injured or stranded by the devastating wildfires. They are working tirelessly with our partners to rescue as many survivors as possible and provide safety, shelter, food, water, and medical care to wildlife fire victims.

And you can support their heroic efforts.

GIVE AN EMERGENCY GIFT

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A Crisis of Unprecedented Scale

Australia is facing a catastrophic environmental crisis. We grieve for the impacted communities. And as conservationists, we are deeply concerned that we will lose many rare and endangered species to extinction because of this disaster. Many species native to Australia are found nowhere else on Earth.

Scientists estimate that 1 billion wild animals have been killed by the fires. This conservative calculation excludes fish, frogs, bats, and insects. The number could actually be much higher.

 

 

A mother kangaroo and her young joey stand in the grass at the edge of a green forest

Large kangaroos can travel more than 23 feet forward and 10 feet high in one hop! And they can hop at more than 30 miles per hour. Like many other wildlife species, they're unique to Australia.

1 billion

Scientists estimate that Australia’s devastating wildfires have killed more than one billion animals.

Hungry and Homeless

All across Australia, the landscape has been devastated. More than ten million hectares⁠ of land⁠—40,000 square miles⁠—have burned. Entire ecosystems have been destroyed. And animals that managed to escape the fires now face starvation and dehydration.

Our colleagues are rescuing animals that have been injured or stranded by the wildfires and taking them to safe places where they can receive the treatment and care they need in order to heal. The teams' heroic rescue efforts also include leaving food and water behind for animals that don’t require veterinary treatment.

 

 

A koala mother and joey high up in a eucalyptus tree

Koalas rarely descend from their treetop homes to the ground. But with Australia experiencing record-breaking heat and drought, the iconic marsupials are being forced down, where they're desperately searching for water.

100+

More than 100 fires are still burning in Australia. In early January 2020, there were more than 200 fires across the country.

Search and Rescue

Meet Smudge, an essential member of our search and rescue team. For conservationists, finding a koala hiding in a tree is nearly impossible—but not for Smudge! He uses his nose to track through the forest, searching for koalas, and alerts his handlers when he finds a survivor.

Smudge’s team includes expert climbers, who bravely ascend 200 feet into swaying eucalyptus trees. Using special equipment, they bring the koalas down to safety. This dedicated group has even managed to find and rescue a number of koalas before the fires reached their trees!

 

 

An Australian firefighter surveys a burnt forest; Smudge, a specially trained koala detection dog, stands on a log in an unburnt forest

LEFT: an Australian firefighter surveys damage caused by wildfires in Queensland. RIGHT: Smudge is a specially trained koala detection dog. As soon as burnt areas are safe to enter, Smudge and his team start looking for wildlife survivors.

200

Eucalyptus trees can grow to be more than 200 feet tall—no problem for a koala to climb, but not as easy for Smudge's team.

Unmeasured Losses

No one knows exactly how much of Australia's plant life has been lost to the wildfires, but some of the consequences of this widespread disaster are already visible.

When fires destroy trees and plants, dozens of wildlife species lose shelter and food sources. Without brush to hide under or trees to escape into, smaller animals like quokka become especially vulnerable to predators like feral cats and foxes.

Experts think that some of Australia's ecosystems could start to bounce back within a few years, if no more major fires rip through them. Other environments might need decades or centuries to recover. And some habitats may not be able to recover at all.

 

 

Scorched earth and blackened tree trunks caused by a large bush fire in the southern Sydney suburb of Barden Ridge, in Australia

Scorched earth and blackened tree trunks caused by a large wildfire in a Sydney suburb. The smoke from the Australian wildfires is visible from space. It's also arriving in New Zealand, more than 1,000 miles away.

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Australia is comprised of six states and two territories. They have all experienced wildfires during the 2019-2020 season.

Long-Term Effects

For now, emergency crews and conservationists are addressing the immediate needs of wildlife, rescuing and caring for as many animals as possible. But the challenges won't end when the fires are gone. Animals that don't fall victim to starvation, dehydration, exposure, or opportunistic predators will have to adjust to an altered landscape.

And later in the year, when the rainy season arrives, debris from the fires will be washed into waterways. Water-dwelling animals like platypuses will likely be affected by contamination and pollution as their homes become inundated with soot, ash, charred wreckage, and fire-dousing chemicals.

 

 

A platypus swims through clear water

Platypus are found in freshwater streams, creeks, and rivers along the eastern coast of Australia. They're about the size of a domestic cat, measuring between 12 and 24 inches long and weighing 2 to 4 pounds. These unique, egg-laying mammals are threatened by freshwater habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change.

250

Nearly 250 species of mammals are found only in Australia.

You Can Provide Relief and Hope

Over the past few weeks, friends around the world have mobilized and come together to help our partners and colleagues in Australia. We’ve never seen so many people come together so quickly for wildlife, and we’re in awe. Those donations are already hard at work in Australia.

Your support today will save lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been working with conservation partners to protect koalas, kangaroos, platypuses, and many other Australian species found nowhere else on Earth. With rampant fires raging across the country, these iconic animals need us now more than ever.

Your donation will be put to work immediately. Your generous gift will rescue and relocate animals in danger, provide critical access to water for survivors in the wild, and care for koalas and countless other victims stranded by the wildfires.

JOIN US

 

 

A wild koala climbs a tree and surveys their forest surroundings

Koalas are unique to Australia, where they live in eucalyptus forests. They only eat eucalyptus leaves, which provide all the nutrients and water they need. Slow-moving and adapted for life in tall trees, they are especially vulnerable on the ground and only descend to move from one tree to another.

1/3

Estimates suggest that nearly a third of koalas in New South Wales alone may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat within the state has been destroyed.

 

photo credits | all images iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images | koala, first image: CraigRJD | kangaroos: Bobtokyoharris | koala mother and joey: robertcicchetti | firefighter surveying burnt trees: Stuart_Shaw | Smudge, the koala detection dog: Blue Mountains Koala Project, Science For Wildlife | burnt trees: JohnJDowling | platypus: JohnCarnemolla | koala climbing tree: fogaas