Sydney, Jan 13: A call by an Australian wildlife welfare body for help in the recovery of animals injured in wildfires, which ravaged parts of Australia last week has seen an unprecedented international response on Tuesday, thanks to social media.
The affected native koala bears, which normally live in trees were first given drinks from water bottles by caring humans to keep them alive, but those rescued had badly burnt paws after clinging to burning branches, Xinhua reported.
The solution was simple. Treat the burns with medications, then place glove-like mittens over the burnt paws.
But such mittens are not commercially manufactured for mass bushfire burnings. Instead, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) relies on humans to knit the mittens and send them to a centralised depot.
Australians have long done so in such emergencies, including donating blankets to create pouches for baby kangaroos rescued from their dead mothers' pouches.
A social media call-out for mittens was made last Thursday, but the response has astounded the IFAW.
Mittens have been sent from the US, Russia, China, Britain, Kazakhstan and other parts of the world.
Josey Sharrad from the IFAW told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the organisation was astonished.
"What started off as a local campaign, just asking the Australian public has just absolutely gone global and viral," Sharrad said.
"It's truly phenomenal."
The IFAW has been unable to count all of the donated mittens, but said they had thousands and did not need any more.
"It was absolutely overwhelming, we could not have planned for this and we are so touched by the kind heartedness of people all around the world," Sharrad said.
"Luckily, we have a big stock room and we will keep them here and send them out to people all around the country as and when they're needed."
A bushfire, that started on Jan 2 in Adelaide, has burnt through more then 12,500 hectares of land, destroying 27 homes and killing countless stock and wildlife.
Sharrad said koalas were especially at risk during a bushfire due to their slow movements.
She also called for pouches for other wildlife affected by the fires, saying, "There will be orphaned kangaroos and wallabies coming in and they need to be kept by wildlife rescuers in a very warm, pouch like environment."