Meet Bear, the hero dog who's saving koalas in Australian bushfires

This Australian detection dog continues to save our vulnerable koalas - and LifeStyle is delighted to tell the story of this brave pup. 

He's the Australian Koolie rescue dog who's become an international hero for his recent efforts in the bushfires and we're thrilled to announce we'll be telling Bear’s full story in, Bear - Koala Hero, a special show airing on LifeStyle in March.

We'll be telling the story of the much-loved dog who puts on his red fire-safety boots and enters fire-affected areas in rural communities to find vulnerable koalas in need of rescuing.

Already capturing the hearts of many, Bear's heroic life is a far cry from how he started - a puppy in a rescue shelter diagnosed with OCD. Since being rescued by the University of the Sunshine Coast's Detection Dogs for Conservation, Bear has spent his life training to find endangered animals by scent. 

A dog's scent is between 1,000 and 10,000 times stronger than a human's, with the ability to be trained to smell an odour of flora and fauna on land, and even under the sea. However, Bear is the only one in his team who has the ability to find koalas by scent from vast distances.



A post shared by USC Dedection Dogs (@usc_detection_dogs) on

Bear is part of the USC's Detection Dogs for Conservation which is a not-for-profit organisation that rescues dogs from animal shelters, and trains them to help find and save endangered flora and fauna.

"Our aim is to find new ways to use detection dogs to protect Australia’s biodiversity and provide immediate benefits to the community like stopping the spread of cane toads, and protecting koala populations," reveals the charity. "Our work is grounded in research and focused on producing effective results, which is why it’s run as not-for-profit from within a university."

Sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the conservation dogs are proving to be an incredibly important part of Australian conservation. As a non-for-profit, the organisation relies only on donations to rescue and train dogs to help make a difference, and they need Australia's support.

Since the fires started in November 2019, more than 11 million hectares of Australian land has burned. With hundreds of lost communities, homes and lives, it's estimated 500 billion animals perished in the fires, with a third of native koalas lost in New South Wales.

In fact, an inquiry by the Centre for Fortean Zoology Australia revealed that following the recent disaster, koalas are expected to be extinct in New South Wales and Queensland by 2050. 

While many organisations have resuced koalas from fire-affected areas, no one has been quite as thorough as Bear.

“This is the first year that we have been involved in the fires,” said Romane Cristescu, Bear's minder and ecologist at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

“It is a bit more dangerous than what we usually do.

"With climate change, habitat loss and diseases, koalas are just facing too many threats,” Romane added.

Bear, who now has his own Instagram account, has gained the attention of people around the world, including international celebrities like Tom Hanks. 

As soon as he heard the incredible story of the blue-eyed pup, Tom Hanks said, “This is a Disney movie. That must be made. The story of Bear: the koala detection dog. That’s adorable. I like Bear.”

To support Bear and the Detection Dogs for Conservation, you can donate here.

Main image credit: @ficlarkphotography/via Reuters

You can watch Bear - Koala Hero on LifeStyle, Wednesday March 18 at 8.30pm

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