Koala detection dog rescuing wildlife from Australian bushfires

A koala detection dog named Bear is making a name for himself saving animals from the bushfires in Australia — and everyone including Tom Hanks is talking about it!

As wildfires blaze across Australia, displacing people and decimating wildlife, individuals and organizations from around the world are working flat out to help save lives. Among them is Bear, a koala detection dog who has attracted the attention of celebrities Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio for his work locating injured koalas and other critters in fire-razed habitats.

Trained by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), Bear’s contributions to the rescue efforts are especially helpful thanks to his ability to sniff out wild animals his humans team members can’t see. This means rescuers can work much faster, and save more animals – a crucial advantage given the ferocity of the fires and the widespread damage they’re causing.

Tom Hanks is so inspired by Bear that he recently paid tribute to the pooch on Nice Tweets with Tom Hanks; he’s also endorsing the filming of a Disney movie to celebrate the dog who was abandoned as a puppy but is now an international hero. “This is a Disney movie that must be made – the story of Bear, the koala detection dog,” Hanks is quoted as saying.

“We did not expect to see Tom Hanks talking about Bear on Twitter, but it’s really shone a light on the work that Bear, and our other detection dogs, are doing to protect our environment,” says Dr. Celine Frere of USC Detection Dogs for Conservation. “We have been contacted by people all around the world telling us how Bear has provided a bit of much-needed comfort…some even telling us that Bear’s story inspired them to support koala conservation.”