Goldie the koala isn’t trying to make a fashion statement with his snazzy-looking mittens. The marsupial’s gloves are helping to heal his injured paws.
Goldie is on the mend after his hands were burned in a 2015 bushfire, similar to the many fires that commonly rage across Australia during the continent’s spring and summer. Little rain falls then, putting koalas like Goldie in danger. The animals' hands are often singed from holding on to burned trees.
"Healthy paws are critical for a koala’s survival in the wild," says Josey Sharrad, a wildlife worker for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. To treat Goldie and other koalas, Sharrad and fellow caregivers applied a special ointment to their burns and covered their paws in cloth to keep them from getting infected. But burns like Goldie’s can take up to a year to fully recover, and cloth bandages need to be changed daily.
The group put out a call for fabric—in the form of mittens. People all over responded, from China, Russia, the United States, and even Kazakhstan. The organization said they have enough mittens to keep the marsupials covered for some time. Looks like Goldie won’t be the only koala to get a helping mitten, er, hand.