Sew cute: knitters unite to help animals in Australian wildfires

Rescue group inundated with mittens for koalas and pouches for joeys


Australian bushfires that have left around half a billion animals dead have sparked a global crafting effort, as volunteers around the world knit, crochet and sew items for native wildlife.

Young marsupials, including possums, koalas and wombats, have been left orphaned by the fires, and now rely on artificial pouches to grow.

Meanwhile, older koalas need mittens for their burnt paws, while animals like flying foxes need pouches to boost their recovery, reports The Guardian.

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The Australian Animal Rescue Craft Guild put out a plea for hand-crafted pouches on Facebook, which has about 120,000 followers.

“It’s been going crazy,” Belinda Orellana, a founding member of the guild, told Reuters. “The response has been amazing.”

The group was originally formed a few months ago to make dog and cat beds and coats for animal rescue centres, but changed its mission to help the animals affected by the bushfires, says the New York Post.

“It’s the poor little souls that survived where we come in,” said Orellana. “Our group creates and supplies items to rescue groups and carers around the country who take in and care for the wildlife.”

The Rescue Collective, based in Queensland, has partnered with the guild to distribute items that have been donated by the public. The partnership has already been inundated with requests from rescuers for handmade pouches, says Rachel Sharples, a Rescue Collective volunteer.

“It’s not just kangaroos, it’s also baby koalas, it’s bats, and possums, and sugar gliders – all the marsupials in Australia who are used to growing up inside a pouch now don’t have a pouch to grow up inside any more,” she said.

Animals are in need of wraps and pouches throughout the year, not just the fire season, and experts do not expect the recent influx of donations to meet the demand.

Those thinking about donating should follow instructions provided by the Australian Animal Rescue Craft Guild carefully, to avoid creating items that are not appropriate for small animals because of an incompatible material or pattern.

“Australia has a lot of iconic and lovable animals,” says Sharples. “I think that for people to physically be able to create something, to physically create an item they know an animal will use, resonates with people more so than a cash donation and that is why we have set that up as an option or a way to help.”

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