An adventurous 6-year-old dog assisted in the rescue of more than 100 wounded koalas from Australian bush fires.
Now, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has recognised Australian Koolie Bear as a hero and given him an award.
Bear received his training at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, where the Detection Dogs for Conservation team trained the former rescue dog to locate the wounded koalas amid the ashes using his enhanced sense of smell.
The USC team’s research fellow, Dr. Romane Cristescu, claimed that Bear got “extra pats and extra play” after being recognised on camera at the IFAW Animal Action Awards ceremony held in the House of Lords in London.
She said that Bear’s keen sense of smell and boundless energy for play made him the perfect subject for studies including things like identifying the smell of koala hair in the wild.
Sponsored by IFAW, Bear was described as “a ray of hope” by the organisation as he sought burnt habitat to assist the USC/IFAW team and their partners in saving over 100 koalas.
He gained international recognition for his bravery via his Instagram feed, BearTheKoalaDog.
Before, his previous owners had given him up because of behavioural problems brought on by his “boundless energy and obsessive enthusiasm for play,” and he ended up in an animal shelter.
The USC/IFAW koala detection dog, along with the other dogs on the team, is still helping with research and animal rescues, according to Dr. Cristescu, a former veterinarian and ecologist.
In cooperation with IFAW, Bear and our group are researching how the 2019–20 bushfires have affected koala health and habitat density.
Bear also works with neighbourhood rescue organisations to locate koalas for welfare rescue operations throughout the day.
“As part of the other research activities conducted by Detection Dogs for Conservation, he is always happy to lend a paw to find koalas.”
The PBS video of Bear at work is below.