As wildfires ravage on across Australia, ecologists from the University of Sydney fear that more than a billion of the country’s animals, birds and reptiles are dead. It’s estimated that wildfires have consumed more than 14.7 million acres of land, with no natural relief in sight.
The hashtag #PrayForAustralia has taken over social media, with celebrities and everyday people alike, stepping up to help the cause.
As a way to express her sadness over the tragic fires, one Australian artist was inspired to create a cartoon that’s now going viral.
The artist, Shania-Mae Sturm II, shared an illustration of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, greeting his animal friends who have succumbed to the fires.
Feel free to share this but please give credit to my page!
So… it’s sad to say that I’ve spent about 3 weeks or so on…
Kneeling down, the beloved conservationist is seen with arms wide open saying, “Don’t worry little guys! I’ll take care of you!”
Sturm dedicated the drawing, which took her three weeks to complete, to “all the innocent animals caught in the blazes across my home country.”
“It breaks my heart to see it’s still going on but there’s only so much that can be done to keep it from spreading,” she wrote on Facebook. “I hope all the animals who couldn’t make it are now in heaven with Steve Irwin, being taken care of, and not having a care in the world or memory of how they got there. Rest In Peace fuzzy babies, we will miss you.”
The artist, who currently resides here in the United States with her husband, says the news of the fires hits home — literally. She hopes people are inspired to donate to Australian fundraising campaigns that directly support the fire victims and volunteers.
It’s estimated that up to 30 percent of koala bears in New South Wales may have been completely wiped out. The area is home to a huge portion of Australia’s koalas, with an estimated population of between 15,000 to 28,000. The current death toll of the species is well above 8,000.
Last week, a heartbroken Bindi Irwin took to Instagram, ensuring followers that she and her family were safe, and have been hard at work treating tens of thousands of animals hurt by the wildfires.
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“Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients,” she said.
The Irwin family owns and operates the Australia Zoo in Queensland, and a wildlife hospital where the 21-year-old said more than 90,000 animals have received care.
As bushfires continue to burn across her country, Bindi’s mind has been on her father’s incredible strength and legacy.
“Dad spent his life working so hard to protect wildlife and wild places, especially in Australia,” she wrote on Instagram Tuesday beside a photo of Steve holding a small marsupial.
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“I wish he was here right now to give advice and strength during this time of devastation with the bushfires,” she continued. “I know that his spirit lives on through our conservation work and I hope together we can make him proud. 💙🙏🏼”