Update on Sam the Koala, Bushfire Survivor [with video]

Russell Vickery

CFA volunteer David Tree helps a distressed koala in burnt-out forest at Mirboo North. Pic: Russell Vickery

UPDATE on yesterday’s post, “Here you go, Mate” — Hope from the Ashes

*New pictures, updates and new video below the fold to save loading time…

Rebecca Michael

Recovery: Bushfire victim Sam the koala's burns are treated by Colleen Wood at a shelter in Rawson. Picture: Rebecca Michael

Rebecca Michael

Recovery: Sam the koala recovering from her burns sustained in Victoria's bushfires at a shelter in Rawson. Picture: Rebecca Michael

Sam the Koala is becoming overnight-famous in the way that’s only become possible since the advent of the Internet.  Since the picture above, taken on the spur of the moment by a fellow CFA volunteer with a mobile phone camera,  was published yesterday, Sam (who is a girl koala, by the way) has become a globally-famous  marsupial.  David Tree, the volunteer firefighter in the photo who is also shown in video here during the rescue? Not so much.    Sure, you and your fellow bush fire fighters are the real heroes here, genuine Aussie legends, and you deserve to be famous too, all of you, but … what can we say?  Sam is just that darned cute.  But know that you and all of the volunteers who have been going almost non-stop day and night now, while you might not be quite as famous, still have our most sincere appreciation and admiration.  Onya, mates!


From the Herald Sun:

Victorian bushfire survivor, Sam the koala, a global star

Megan McNaught,  Melbourne Herald Sun – February 11, 2009 12:00am

SAM became the most famous koala in the world when firefighter David Tree stopped to give him a drink amid the devastation.

Pictures of Sam, who turned out to be female, travelled around the globe and featured in major newspapers including The New York Times, London’s The Sun and on CNN.

The image provided a much-needed picture of hope in a week filled with news of despair. Yesterday Sam was recovering in Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter.

Carer Jenny Shaw said she suffered burns on her paws and was in a lot of pain, but was on the road to recovery.

She was put on an IV drip and is on antibiotics and pain relief treatment.

“She is lovely – very docile – and she has already got an admirer. A male koala keeps putting his arms around her,” Ms Shaw said. “She will need regular attention and it will be a long road to recovery, but she should be able to be released back into the wild in about five months.”

Mr Tree said he was surprised by the reaction to the photograph, which was snapped by a fellow CFA volunteer on a mobile phone.

He said he was in the middle of backburning at Mirboo North when he saw the stricken koala. “I could see she had sore feet and was in trouble, so I pulled over the fire truck. She just plonked herself down, as if to say ‘I’m beat’,” he said.

“I offered her a drink and she drank three bottles.

“The most amazing part was when she grabbed my hand. I will never forget that.”

Mr Tree and his brigade then received an emergency call-out to save a house, but minutes later Sam was picked up by wildlife carers.

Click here to watch video

Click here to watch video


See also: “Here you go, Mate” — Hope from the Ashes and

The Australian Bushfires: An Ongoing News & Comment Round-Up [Updated]



I’ve just noticed how many hits we’re getting on our bushfire posts, especially the Sam the Koala ones, and how many people have been downloading/linking to the images.

Now, we are a non-commercial ‘hobby’ site – we don’t ask for or receive any money from this site.


As long as you’ve found yourself here, think about whether you need those lattes or take-aways (fast food) for the next week, and then think about all that the people of Victoria in Australia have just lost (materially, for no-one who has not lost a family member or loved one to disaster can even begin to imagine the rest of what these folks have lost…).


Go here:  Australian Bushfires — How To Help


[spot_the_dog is eying *particularly* the pockets of little green footballers here… (thanks, gramfan!)]

[G’day also to our friends visiting from the LA Times and Eye On The World]

Seriously.  “Just do it.”

UPDATE: G’day to our friends visiting from the LA Times and Eye On The World

UPDATE #2:   By popular request,  “How You Can Help – Animal Edition” – what you can do to help those like Sam the Koala!

UPDATE #3: The Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter which is now caring for Sam and other koalas that were burnt on 7 February 2009 now have a website with more great photos of and information about Sam the Koala, and they’ll be keeping it updated.  They are also, of course, looking for help in caring for her and the many other animals they’ve taken in.   http://www.samthekoala.com.au/


Stumble It!

22 Responses to “Update on Sam the Koala, Bushfire Survivor [with video]”

  1. Photo: “Here you go, Mate” — Hope From the Ashes « The Tizona Group Says:

    […] Comments Update on Sam the Ko… on The Australian Bushfires: An …Update on Sam the Ko… on […]

  2. bingbing Says:

    A bit more good news…

    Quick-thinking bushfire heroes saved eight families


  3. spot_the_dog Says:

    Thanks for that, Bingbing. There are just so, so many “good-news” stories coming out as time goes by but I won’t be able to be reliably online for the next 24/48 hours or so – I hope that the other editors/administrators like you plus any other readers will be able to keep comments & posts on this updated.

    Again – thanks mate. Appreciate your help, and everyone else’s.

  4. Les Says:

    While human life is precious and everything possible is done to protect us humans, it is the photos of Sam that reminds us of the serious plight of our wonderful wildlife at this time as well. How is it possible that someone can want to harm them?

  5. bingbing Says:

    You’re welcome, and thanks for the post and updates yourself, mate.

    Lots more info here from Andrew Bolt.


    If for whatever reason you’re a victim of the fires and are reading this, there is government assistance available right now.


    call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.
    $1000 right now.

  6. Gramfan Says:

    Great Pictures!

  7. spot_the_dog Says:

    Binginbg, I’m about to send y’all an email, but maybe you could update the “How to Help” post with your “how to receive help” info? Plus reiterations on the various contact/support message boards? I remember what NYC/DC was like after 9/11, with people trying to find info. Like I said, I’ll only be online intermittently for the next little bit, so everyone will appreciate any help I’m sure. Ta.

  8. spot_the_dog Says:

    “Great Pictures!”

    If you find someone using/linking them, guys, try and guilt them into donating to one of the Victorian Bushfire Appeal funds. Someone will be keeping the page updated.

    Cheers, and remember – SERIOUS guilt. Rebuilding and helping is going to take SEROUS money, but if people are happy enough to look at/copy/link this post info, and/or if it gives them a smile, it should be worth, morally, at least a couple of Lattes or Happy Meals to them. 😉

    And internationally, donations to the NAB fund and the Red Cross work just fine, I have it on first-hand authority.


  9. Gramfan Says:

    [spot_the_dog is eying *particularly* the pockets of little green footballers here… (thanks, gramfan!)]

    You’re very welcome 🙂

    It’s nice to post something as heart-warming as this for a change, and I know many people are interested in this story.

  10. elsie Says:

    What wonderful photos, and very good to see an update on cuddly Sam’s condition.

    Shopping today, I was pleased to see that Coles are going to donate all their profits on Friday to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. Perhaps other stores are doing it too, but a good way to make even buying your groceries count for something.

  11. spot_the_dog Says:

    Hello, Elsie – good to see you here! The info about Coles is here – hopefully another editor here will add it to the “How You Can Help” page as I’m on a dodgy wifi atm and can’t stay online long just now. What a day to have a fever in Perth, 40+ degrees and no Freo doctor in site yet. Anyway. If not here’s a cut & paste from the Coles site and I’ll have a go at updating a post later:

    Help us help the bushfire victims.

    At Coles we’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the devastating bushfires.

    What Coles is doing to support:

    (UPDATE by bingbing: BI-LO and Pick n’ Pay [same mob as Coles] are offering the same deal.)

    To help lend a hand, every Coles store in Australia will donate this Friday’s profits to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, in partnership with Australian Red Cross.

    What you can do to support:

    If you’d like to help out too, you can make donations to the Bushfire Appeal at all Coles’ supermarket registers. We hope that with your help, we can make a difference to Victorian communities in their time of need.

  12. spot_the_dog Says:

    And also – thank-you again, Gramfan. You’re truly one of the white hats, you are!

  13. Gramfan Says:


    I’m sure you “have” a white hat also 🙂

    In this day and age being called a “white hat” is indeed a great compliment!

  14. Birgit Geigenberger Says:

    please pass on to Rebecca Michael !
    Dear Rebecca,
    we would love to publish the iamges you took of the Koala Sam in our german animal magazine, would you please get in contact with me , urgently.
    Best Regards

  15. spot_the_dog Says:

    Birgit: I have just sent you an email with some details. Let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Thanks for stopping by!

    Cheers mate.

  16. Watcher Says:

    What an amazing and unbelievably touching story. Thanks for the update you posted at my place.

  17. spot_the_dog Says:

    No worries, mate – and thanks again for the link.

  18. Tara Says:

    Thank you,, Very much to the person who saved this darling sweet koala lol hahahahahahahaha nice to hear some jokes in a while dnt youz reken lol hahahahahahahahha

  19. “How to Help” - Animal Edition - Australian Bushfires 2009 « The Tizona Group Says:

    […] Recent Comments spot_the_dog on Stay and defend or leave …Lorenzo (from downun… on Stay and defend or leave …Lorenzo (from downun… on Gerald Celente, Prophet of…The Wizard of WOZ on Sunday Brunchspot_the_dog on Proof God Hates Al Gore: The I…Angus Dei on World Cup Soccer: Viva Costa…spot_the_dog on Bing wins Peter Roebuck Summer…Angus Dei on Proof God Hates Al Gore: The I…Jeff on Proof God Hates Al Gore: The I…Gramfan on Gerald Celente, Prophet of…David Le Page on Has Kevin seen the light?Gramfan on Gerald Celente, Prophet of…Angus Dei on Gerald Celente, Prophet of…just the goods on World Cup Soccer: Viva Costa…Tara on Update on Sam the Koala, Bushf… […]

  20. SonyaSunny Says:

    Hi there,
    Can i take a one small photo from your site?

    • bingbing Says:

      No worries.

  21. Tommy Cooper Says:

    Hi there,
    I was 15 years old.
    it was a bit sad the Koala and I love koalas and I was really sad Sam the Koala
    and I love the Bushfire Aid CD then the bushfires are bad
    my favorite song on the Bushfire Aid CD is
    “Walking On The Dream”
    so I you get some flowers.

    Thank you.

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