BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The devastating wildfires in Australia have left over 20 people and an estimated 1 billion animals dead.
Other animals in bush fire sites are in need of emergency veterinary care or have had their habitats destroyed.
The zoo is donating a portion of all of its admission and parking sales during the timeframe to the Zoos Victoria’s Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund.
In addition, the Zoological Society of Buffalo’s board of directors will match all funds raised through the two-month campaign.
While the fires are killing high-profile Australian animals such as kangaroos and koalas, other animals such as birds, rodents, and reptiles are also affected, Mandy Odrobina, Buffalo Zoo animal care specialist said.
Australian birds, like the Buffalo Zoo’s resident kookaburra Bindi, might be able to escape the fires by flight but are still in danger of smoke inhalation.
“They’re highly at risk because birds have different respiratory systems,” Odrabina explained. “They’re not in the fires, but could be flying away carrying smoke in their respiratory systems, which could kill them.”
Kookaburras like Bindi are usually brown and white, which helps them camouflage themselves in trees.
“Due to the loss of habitat and burning trees, they can’t camouflage into the trees, so they can’t catch prey,” Odrabina explained.
Kookaburras’ prey source- including lizards and rodents- are also being killed off by the fires.
While bush fires are common in Australia, these fires have scorched an area larger than the state of Indiana, according to AP reports.
“Usually these animals are used to being around fire, but this fire is taking up a lot of the entire country of Australia,” Odrabina said. “It’s a very difficult thing for them to recover from.”
The Buffalo Zoo’s gift shop is also raising money for the Zoos Victoria’s Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund, by giving guests the option to round up their change to donate.
The zoo is currently offering its “Polar Bear Days” discount admission. Tickets are $8.95 for everyone through February.