Tyson Mayr and canine sidekick Bear caught the attention of animal-lovers across Australia as they saved stricken koalas from the summer bushfires.
Now the wildlife warrior’s own heart has been captured — by a koala who is about to get a prosthetic leg from America in a world-first operation.
The little creature, called Triumph, is among hundreds at Friends of Koalas, a volunteer-run organisation in Lismore, NSW.
Mayr, wildlife activist and Escape’s newest contributor, has worked closely with the volunteer-run organisation rescuing and rehabilitating over 400 koalas a year. It’s a cause that he says, has become his full time focus. “Growing up on a farm you develop a special affinity with wildlife, and when the big fires came through, it was my natural instinct to help out the animals,” Mayr said.
“Right now there’s a koala that’s about to receive a prosthetic leg from America, and it will be the first time this sort of procedure has taken place. The work they do is remarkable and you still get that cuteness overload.”
Over the summer, the devastating impact to Australia’s wildlife caused by bushfires sent shockwaves around the world.
Mayr witnessed the damage first hand after his family’s farm came close to succumbing to Queensland’s Darling Downs fire in November 2019.
As a result, Mayr was desperate to get involved in the recovery efforts, and soon he was introduced to his new furry colleague, Bear — a rescue dog who became the hero and star of his own documentary.
The series, Bear: Koala Hero, now showing on Lifestyle on Foxtel/Binge, follows Bear and Mayr as they scour through burnt-out bushland in southern Queensland in search of koalas. “Meeting Bear restored my hope for the future of koalas,” Mayr explains.
“He’s this regular goofball dog that suddenly becomes this focused, accurate and efficient character. He has the most important job in the world and it’s remarkable to watch.”
Wearing socks to protect his paws, the heroic blue-eyed Border Collie-Koolie cross is one of the five pooches that make up the Sunshine Coasts University’s Detection Dogs for Conservation program, which assists with conservationist protect endangered wildlife.
You can find Tyson Mayr’s first column in the newly relaunched Escape magazine inside today’s News Corp papers.
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