At Home with Australian Couple who Protected Baby Kangaroos from Fires
Even as a bushfire threatened the rural Australian community of Wytaliba, Gary Wilson and his partner Julie Willis decided not to flee their wooden house.
The two had a home full of orphaned baby kangaroos to protect.
More than 10 of the baby kangaroos -- called joeys – stayed safe inside fabric pouches that hung in the couple's living room. Each piece of cloth looked like the opening in which mother kangaroos carry their young.
Wilson and Willis have taken care of wild animals before. Recently, full-grown kangaroos and other wildlife that had left their care long ago came back to the house in search of protection as the fires grew nearer.
"We had way too many animals in the house and around the house so we really couldn't go," Wilson told the Reuters news agency from his home. "We decided we were going to stay and fight." Their home is now surrounded by burned land and vehicles.
"At three o'clock it was a beautiful summer's day, by four o'clock it was midnight," Wilson said. "You couldn't see any more than 20 yards [18 meters] and then the firestorm came through and pretty much burned everything."
Wilson and Willis defended their home for at least 14 hours with fire extinguishers and water pumps. Their house also had a special device on top that sprayed water on hot ashes falling on the property.
Good preparation -- and very good luck -- helped the building stay safe. And the motherless animals have survived. But the November fire that hit the small community killed two of Wilson's neighbors.
"It was a horrible thing," Wilson said. "The whole bush has been burnt. It's been vaporized."
Willis said she had never seen such fierce fires. She said most animals -- such as possums, gliders, lizards and even many birds -- were not fast enough to escape.
She said, "It's not until after the fires when it really hits you how close you were to dying...but at the time you are too busy trying to put the fire out."
Australia's bushfire season has killed over 30 people and an estimated 1 billion native animals since September. About 2,500 homes have been destroyed, and more than 11.7 million hectares of dry bushland have been burned through.
While Wilson and Willis usually care for joeys that are rescued after their mothers are struck by vehicles, they are now welcoming an increasing number of fire orphans.
Willis said the joeys will one day be released into the wild.
She said, "We didn't have children ourselves; this is what we spend our time doing. We think it's worthy - a worthy cause - looking after our babies no matter what they are..."
I'm Ashley Thompson.
1.at least 至少
He's been away for at least a week.
2.care for 关心
I had a strong desire to help and care for people
3.looking after 照顾
Thank you for looking after us so well.
4.close to 靠近
I was close to tears with frustration, but I held back.
5.It's not until after the fires when it really hits you how close you were to dying...but at the time you are too busy trying to put the fire out."
at the time 那时
I was out of work at the time.
I was not in Britain at the time.
6.It's not until after the fires when it really hits you how close you were to dying...but at the time you are too busy trying to put the fire out."
put out 伸出；熄灭
Yesterday afternoon the White House put out a new version of events.
The government had put out a press release naming the men.
十几只袋鼠宝宝——也被称为“幼兽”——安全地待在夫妇俩在客厅为它们悬挂的布袋里 。每个布袋看起来都像袋鼠妈妈携带幼崽的育儿袋 。
威尔逊和威利斯有过照顾野生动物的经验 。近期，由于大火越烧越近，成年袋鼠以及其他野生动物被迫逃离，幼崽只能回到人类的房子中寻求庇护 。
“我们房子里面还有房子周围有太多动物需要照顾，所以我们真的不能走，”威尔逊在家中告诉路透社 。“我们决定留下来与它们并肩作战 。”他家周围现在都是被烧焦的土地和车辆 。
“三点钟还是一副美丽夏日的景象，四点钟就变得像是午夜一般，”威尔逊说道 。“能见度不超过20码(18米)，然后大火烧过来，几乎烧毁了所有东西 。”
为了保护自己的家，威尔逊和威利斯利用灭火器和水泵至少和大火抗争了14个小时 。他家房子上面还安有一个特殊装置，能够朝着散落下来的热灰烬喷水 。
良好的预防加上足够好的运气使得这座房屋得以安全存留，也使得这些孤儿幼兽幸存了下来 。不过，11月份袭击这个小社区的火灾还是杀死了威尔逊的两个邻居 。
“它真的很可怕，”威尔逊说 。“整个灌木丛都被烧毁了，就像被蒸发了 。”
威利斯说她从未见过如此猛烈的火灾 。她说大多数动物，如负鼠、袋鼯、蜥蜴，甚至许多鸟类，都没来得及从大火中逃生 。
自去年9月以来，澳大利亚的丛林大火已造成30多人死亡，估算有10亿只本土动物死亡 。约2500所房屋被毁，1170多万公顷的干旱丛林被烧毁 。