Sam the Koala - key dates


28 & 29 January
Boolarra bushfires began (became known as the Delburn Complex fires)

1 February
Sam was discovered in burnt bushland on Samson Road during a defensive back burning operation in Mirboo North, 150 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. 

Mark Pardew, a firefighter for the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), photographs Sam receiving water from the drink bottle of Country Fire Authority (CFA) firefighter, David Tree.

David Tree (CFA) and Brayden Groen (CFA) also video Sam taking water from the drink bottle.

3 February
Delburn Complex fires contained but still required constant patrolling, mopping up and blacking out.

4 February
Members of Wildlife Rescue and Protection (WRAP) were first alerted to Sam’s situation by David Tree.

6 February
WRAP receives location details for Sam.

Sam rescued by Cathy and Mike Beamish, overseen by Donna Zabinskas.
Sam transferred to the Animal Clinic Morwell for triage by vet Dr John Butler.

7 February
Black Saturday sees the most devastating bushfires in Australia’s recorded history.

8 February
Sam placed in the care of Colleen Wood, manager of the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter, Rawson. Weight 7 kilograms.

10 February
Image of Sam published by Herald-Sun.

Sam’s image is subsequently picked up by media outlets around the world.

Media photographer insists on capturing a particular image of Sam at the shelter.  Colleen Wood decides that all future images of Sam are to be strictly managed by SAWS to minimise stress.

17 February
After the overwhelming intrusion of media enquiries about Sam, SAWS secure the pro bono assistance of TressCox Lawyers to manage all media enquiries.

SAWS create the ‘Sam the Koala’ website to provide accurate information about Sam.

29 February
Sam - left eye continues to discharge, bandage changes to three feet

All dressing are removed from Sam’s paws.

1 April 
Sam’s condition became stable and all medications ceased.

First week of April
Sam’s paws have toughened, she is relocated to the external enclosures.

7 May
Sam’s weight is stable at 7.8kgs. She shows first symptoms of straining with urination.

8 May
Sam’s eye problems continue – left eye begins to discharge and she develops further urinal problems.  Sam is tested a second time for chlamydiosis and has a positive result.  Sam begins treatment for a urogenital form of chlamydiosis.

15 July
Sam’s antibiotic’s dose is doubled, and pain relief given. Supplement feeding increased from two to three times daily.

26 July
Sam brought back inside. Closely monitored, kept comfortable

29 July
Sam’s weight dropped from 7kgs to 6.8kgs

31 July 
Sam’s condition unchanged. Sam undergoes an extensive abdominal ultrasound. It was decided that Sam needed surgery

3 August
Sam condition is deteriorating despite a healthy appetite.

SAWS is in close consultation with Healesville Sanctuary and DSE in relation to Sam’s condition. Dr John Butler suggests worse case scenario and proposes hysterectomy.

6 August
Sam had exploratory surgery for ovarian cysts – it was discovered that the disease was well advanced and beyond treatment. 

Sam was euthanized.

7 August
Museum Victoria expresses interest in acquiring Sam for the state collection and documenting her story.

8 August 
Premier John Brumby announces that Sam will go on view at Melbourne Museum where all Victorians can visit her.


14 January
Sam goes on view in the foyer of Melbourne Museum, with free entry.

2 July
Sam moves to her permanent home in Wild: Amazing Animals in a Changing World.

Comments (2)

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nalek 10 July, 2011 15:24
such a toughy story...
alice 12 March, 2013 21:56
This is the reason why i had a tattoo done of David Tree feeding beautiful Sam her water done on my leg. I was so inspired by that sweet little angel and devastated by her death. Although i never had the pleasure of meeting her i think about her every day and will miss her forever. God bless her little soul and big heart.
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