Bear, the bushfire hero, has received a prestigious award for his koala-saving efforts.
The bushfires that devastated Australia in 2019-2020 left much of the land burnt and barren and countless animals were killed. It’s estimated that the country lost one-third of its koala population to the fires, which is truly heartbreaking.
Once the smoke cleared, rescuers worked diligently to find any survivors that may be out there. One of the best rescuers ended up being a six-year-old Australian Koolie named bear.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare recruited Bear when he was just one years old. The pup had been bred for a pet shop, but it turned out that he didn’t make a very good pet.
As they explained, “Because [Bear] is super high energy, and slightly obsessive, it turned out that he wasn’t the perfect family pet after all. But these qualities do make him a perfect candidate for a koala detection dog.”
Bear was taken in for an assessment and he passed with flying colors. So, his training began, and within a couple of short years he was ready for the field – and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Right as Bear started working in the field to detect koalas, the bushfires devastated Australia and they needed all hands on deck to locate as many koalas as possible. Bear was assigned to areas in New South Wales and Queensland.
In a press release, the IFAW announced, “From November 2019 to April 2020, we are proud to say team Bear has found more than 100 injured, sick, dehydrated, or starving koalas who were able to be assessed and when needed, brought into care.”
They further explained that koalas are notoriously hard to locate because they camouflage well, are quiet, and hold perfectly still.
Thankfully, dogs don’t rely on the same senses that humans do and their sense of smell can help them locate things that humans might easily miss – like live koalas.
Because of his excellent service, Bear was awarded an Animal Action Award.
Bear shared on his own Instagram page, “Bear has been recognised with a prestigious award across the pond in merry old England. Our partners @ifawaustralia honoured Bear with an Animal Action Award in the House of Lords for his work finding and rescuing koalas in bushfire ravaged lands. Bear couldn’t be there in person but we made made sure he felt appreciated with this super-fun-sized tennis ball.”
It’s safe to say that Bear definitely deserves the award and that massive tennis ball!
You can follow Bear on Instagram, @bearthekoaladog.
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