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Published January 16th 2020
A source of hope to those devastated by bushfires
Sam the Koala, from the forests of Mirboo North, was a bushfire survivor during the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009. She was rescued by firefighter David Tree just a week before. When David saw Sam, he approached her and called for water. Sam was then filmed drinking from David's water bottle. The video and photographs went viral on the internet as Sam captured the world's attention.
Sam suffered from blisters on her outer eyes, second-degree burns to her front feet, and third-degree burns to her rear feet which destroyed the full thickness of her skin. Thanks to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, Sam made a full recovery by early April after being treated with pain relief, antibiotics and eye drops.
However, within approximately a month, Sam developed urinal problems due to chlamydiosis, a chronic disease widespread among koalas. An exploratory surgery on the 6th of August discovered that the disease was already beyond treatment, and sadly, Sam had to be euthanized.
Today, you can find Sam at Melbourne Museum as part of the Wild exhibition where her story is preserved as a source of hope to those devastated by the Black Saturday bushfires. This permanent exhibition is open daily from 10am to 5pm, with entry included in your general admission museum ticket.
By the way, if you've been to the Grampians National Park, you might have noticed the Giant Koala at Dadswell Bridge. Well, you guessed it, this famous monument built in 1989 has now been re-named Sam.