“Ellenborough Lewis” made headlines worldwide after a video of a grandmother rescuing the small koala from the devasting bushfires of Australia went viral.
Due to the severe burns received from the massive bushfires, the marsupial was euthanized on November 25, 2019. The story of his rescue and death has impacted the world and serves as a reminder that climate change is severely affecting the planet’s flora and fauna.
As a small tribute to Lewis, Australian artists Gillie and Marc gifted the city of New York a memorial of him. The artists are known for their creative bronze animal sculptures placed all over the world. The sculpture is still under construction and should be done over the next six months. Gillie and Marc have decided to place the memorial right outside of the United Nations.
“The UN is where all the nations can come together to act on climate change” says Jessie Schattner the spokeswoman for Gillie and Marc, on why the UN is the ideal place for the memorial.
Another bronze sculpture of Lewis will be placed at the Port Central shopping center in Port Macquarie, where Lewis was originally from. Gillie and Marc hope their work impacts legislators into taking a serious approach towards the climate crisis.
“They are asking on a global scale for the world to reduce carbon emissions” says Schattner.
Koala deaths have escalated in the past month. Roughly 350 to 1,000 of the herbivores have perished due to the fires.
The Koala Hospital of Port Macquarie, responsible for taking care of Lewis started a GoFundMe to raise money for animal care at the end of October when the bushfires first broke out. Lewis’ moving story has touched the hearts of hundreds worldwide and has earned the hospital more than $1 million in donations. The hospital is currently taking in all the Koalas affected by the fires and providing them with water and proper care for their wounds.
The Australian Koala Foundation estimates there may be less than 43,000 of the marsupials left in Australia, and the species is considered “vulnerable to extinction”. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to Koalas and the bushfires in Australia have impacted two thirds of its habitat and food sources.