Lewis the Koala - rescued from Australian bushfire last week - sadly dies from burn injuries
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Lewis the Koala - rescued from Australian bushfire last week - sadly dies from burn injuries

A KOALA, who gained international attention after footage of him being rescued from an Australian bushfire went viral last week, has sadly died.

The marsupial, named 'Lewis', unfortunately succumbed to burn injuries he sustained shortly before being rescued from the blazing outback.

Lewis was badly burned trying to escape the flames when he was rescued from a tree by a woman who gave him water and wrapped him in a t-shirt.

He was taken to the nearby Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for treatment for severe burns to his feet, chest and stomach.

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Despite attempts to treat his injuries, the hospital confirmed on Tuesday that they decided to put Lewis to sleep because his burns were unlikely to heal.

"We placed him under general anaesthesia this morning to assess his burn injuries and change the bandages," the hospital said in a post on Facebook.

"We recently posted that 'burn injuries can get worse before they get better'. In Ellenborough Lewis’s case, the burns did get worse, and unfortunately would not have gotten better.

"The Koala Hospital’s number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made."

Speaking to Network Nine about rescuing Lewis, Toni Doherty said it was her "natural instinct" to save the koala from the fire.

"When he was climbing a tree he had flames up on his back legs," she said.

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"So I just covered him with my t-shirt and managed to get him off the tree, and it was so hot. I just ran to where it was more open.

"The other guys threw me up water and we put out the fire on him."

Bushfires have been ripping their way through large parts of eastern Australia and have decimated koala habitats in pockets of New South Wales.

Hundred of koalas are thought to have been killed in the fires, which comes just days after the news that the marsupials are officially 'functionally extinct'.

This means that while there are still some 80,000 of them left in the wild, they're destined to disappear forever due to the fact that their habitat continues to be lost and their extremely low numbers means they cannot produce the next generation faster than their numbers are falling.