Australia

Koala seen in rescue from Australian bushfire dies

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Media captionToni rushed into the bush to rescue a koala crying out for help

A koala which drew wide attention after being rescued from an Australian bushfire has died, after failing to recover from his burns.

The koala, dubbed Lewis, had been taken to an animal hospital last week after a woman plucked him from a tree in burning bushland in New South Wales.

Video of the rescue - which shows Toni Doherty using her shirt to wrap up the koala - was viewed globally.

Vets said the marsupial was put down because his burns were not improving.

"[Our] number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made," said Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

Six people have died and more than 500 homes have been lost since a bushfire crisis began ravaging Australia in September.

'It was just so heart-rending'

In the video, Ms Doherty is seen pouring water over the distressed animal in an attempt to cool it.

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Media captionToni Doherty was reunited with Lewis before the decision was made to have him put down

She told local news outlets she had been driving through the forest when she spotted the koala among the flames and heard its cries.

"I didn't realise they could cry out. It was just so heart-rending and I knew I needed to get him out of there as quickly as possible," Ms Doherty told Nine News.

The 14-year-old koala had significant burns to its chest, feet and other parts of its body, vets said.

The hospital has treated dozens of koalas injured from the bushfires which have burnt through more than a million hectares in New South Wales alone.

The blazes continue to burn and officials warn that the worst of Australia's season is still to come.

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