Sam the Koala - A Survivor of the Victorian Bushfires


Bum Chum
Jan 27, 2006
I know Laloki (:heart:) posted a pic of Sam in the "Koala's are thirsty" thread, just thought I'd post the YouTube clip.

So much media attention has been given to the loss of human life and possessions with the heartbreaking fires in Australia, I can't even begin to comprehend the loss of native wildlife.

You can see the terrible destruction that these fires have caused, it's amazing that Sam is even with us.



Apr 9, 2006
Thanks Cal, it is certainly a memorable piece of footage.

The link has been posted in the "Koalas are thirsty" thread as well by aliburke84 and in the news story.


Sep 29, 2008
Where the heart is
There was a photo of this in my paper yesterday, the koala holding the firefighter's hand. I tore it out to keep it - to remind myself that despite all the horror of the last few days, there are still good, kind people in the world.
My thoughts are with all those - animal and human - who have suffered in the fires.


Bum Chum
Jan 27, 2006
In this afternoons AGE newspaper (

'Koala Man' footage not what it seems
  • Prue Vincent
  • February 12, 2009 - 6:45PM
'Koala Man' Dave Tree woke up this morning to find he'd made front-page news across the globe.
NBC, Fox, CNN, even Ellen Degeneres have been on the phone, propelling Dave into the spotlight.
Unfortunately nobody appears to have asked the relevant question 'when was this video filmed?'
The video of the Mirboo North resident stroking a singed koala was actually taken in the week leading up to the deadliest bushfires in Australian history, during preventative backburning operations.
The video shows Dave feeding water from a bottle to the koala, now universally known as 'Sam'. The wounded animal also rests its paw on Dave's hand.
Now Dave has become a household name from London to Los Angeles, but he says all the media interest has taken its toll.
"I think it happened about a week and a half ago, but you'll have to bear with me – I'm losing track of the days.
"I've had all these phone calls for interviews, I've lost contact. I can't get my head around it. I don't think it's finished yet.
"But if Oprah Winfrey called and wanted me to come over to be on her show, I'd have to say No – I'm terrified of flying. I can't get in a plane.
Dave says there was no intention to deceive the public or court publicity and fame.
He says he only took the video to show his daughter.
"I emailed the photos out to a few people to cheer them up. And it's just snowballed from there.
"It's just gotten so out of control, I definitely wasn't up for it. My head's spinning. I'm having a hard time dealing with it…Mentally…it's just, wow. I'm really outside my comfort zone.
"I'm a country boy. I live in a small town of 1800. "
"If people see it as a distraction and a good news story amidst all the tragedy we're going through, then that's great.
Despite the time-lag, the photographs of Tree stroking Sam the Koala have come to symbolise the plight of native animals left homeless after thousands of hectares of bushland burnt.
"At first she was really wary, then she just plonked down and it was like "You're a big predator, but I'm sore, I'm beat, I'm done." She was in pain. And she just looked up at me. So I yelled out for the bottle of water. And she started lapping it up.
Tree was reunited with Sam after she'd been taken to the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter for bandaging.
"It was great to see her again. She had a sniff and I got a bit up close and personal, and I even got a bit choked up.
"So I got in there and got a few happy snaps but I had to bail because I was getting a bit chocked up.
Tree is full of praise for the CFA and DSE's work.
"I don't think there's a word in the English vocabulary that sums up the work these guys are doing. The CFA is a massive family. If one stands we all stand, if one falls, we all fall.
"We got off scot-free in our hometown. My heart goes out to those guys out there still fighting. It's just tragic what's happened.
"So many people have cried over it and I think people needed a release. I think that's why they've related to the koala so much."
Dec 3, 2006
Orange County, CA
Such an amazing video. I love the picture of Sam holding the firefighters hand. Watching that video makes me want to adopt a koala (I doubt that's possible, but they're such cute animals)


Oooh sparkly!
Dec 6, 2006
Leeds, UK
I do think it's a shame that people have to go digging for the "truth" behind every photo.
When it happened isn't really the important bit in my eyes, it's still an injured animal having to trust a human, and doing so in a charred landscape.
This photo/video has come to symbolise the plight of all the animals in the areas affected, to people all over the world who otherwise would have no comprehension of the effect the fire has had on their habitats.
If it gets people to donate to animal charities, and the fire service then I have no problem with it.
Feb 15, 2007
Whether the video was from the actual bushfire or not, it's no secret that thousands of animals were hurt or killed. DH read an article that close to a million animals died or will die as a result of this fire, and he wouldn't tell me other details because he knew how upset I would be. We made a donation to the zoo to help out those poor animals.