Canberra – The long-awaited rain in the fire areas in Australia has put the koalas in a zoo near Sydney in jeopardy again: The Australian Reptile Park in Somersby north of Sydney sank on Friday in huge amounts of water. The zoo released photos of dripping wet koalas clinging to eucalyptus or brought to safety by an animal keeper.
The zoo’s crocodile enclosure was also flooded – the water almost spilled over the fence. As seen in a photo, a zoo keeper was holding back a crocodile who was apparently trying to get away with a broom.
A week ago, the Australian Reptile Park was threatened by one of the bushfires that raged in southeastern Australia. “It’s incredible: last week we met every day to discuss the immediate bushfire threat,” said zoo director Tim Faulkner. “Today our whole team was out in the rain to bring our animals to safety and save the park from the floods.”
Farmers were pleased with the rainfall
Elsewhere, farmers who suffer from the continuing drought were finally able to breathe a sigh of rain.
Rainfalls in the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – which are among the areas most affected by fire – do not extinguish all fires, but do help to contain them, according to the fire brigade. “We are keeping our fingers crossed that this will continue in the coming days,” tweeted the New South Wales fire department.
Tourism fears loss of billions
The Australian tourism industry fears billions in losses. The losses could amount to at least 4.5 billion Australian dollars (2.8 billion euros) by the end of the year, according to a report published by the industry association ATEC on Friday.
The calculation is based on a comparison of the current advance bookings with those of the previous year. The decrease corresponds to about ten percent of the total income from foreign tourism.
ATEC director Peter Shelley told the German press agency that at least 70 percent of the 850 members of the association had experienced larger cancellations. Especially vacationers from the USA, Great Britain and other parts of Europe would have changed their minds. The reasons are the fear of bad air, the concern for personal safety and the fear that tourist attractions would have suffered from the fires. The bushfires broke out in a critical period for the bookings.
Third of the area of Germany burned
So far, more than 11.8 million hectares of land have been burned in the heavy fires, which corresponds to about a third of the area of Germany. 29 people died. According to rough estimates, more than a billion animals died. Tourism contributes around six percent to economic output in Australia and is the most important source of foreign currency after iron ore, coal and natural gas. (APA / Reuters / dpa, TT.com)