Koalas caught up in Australia’s catastrophic bushfires have a new guardian angel — dogs.
Rescuers in Australia are deploying the four-legged heroes to sniff out the tree-dwelling marsupials — tracking them down by the smell of their fur or even their poop, ABC News reported.
That keen sense of smell makes the dogs’ noses “a critical life-saving tool to help the koala population survive,” the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation in California said in a statement.
One pooch, a 4-year-old named Taylor, has rescued eight koalas since September, according to TATE Animal Training Enterprises, which specializes in detector dog services in Sydney, ABC said.
“Because they can smell what we can’t see, dogs can be used to track rare animals, detect pest species and locate threatened native plants,” said Celine Frere, a senior research fellow with the University of Sunshine Coast Detection Dogs for Conservation, told the Mother Nature Network. “So, they have such an important role to play in conservation.”
Another rescue dog, a blue-eyed border collie mix named Bear, has even gained celebrity status, prompting actor Tom Hanks to proclaim on Twitter that the dog’s story “is a Disney movie that must be made, the story of Bear the koala detection dog.”
Hanks gave Bear a shout-out last month in a Twitter post of him reading “nice tweets.”
“This is Bear,” he said. “He was abandoned as a puppy due to his OCD, but quickly found a new life as a koala detection dog…. He’s their unexpected savior.”