The devastation of the Australian wildfires may be a world away, but the emotional impact spans globally. As of mid-January, over 14.7 million acres had been torched since November, with an estimated one billion animal lives lost. A third of the koala population has been killed in New South Wales alone.
Imagery and videos continue to make headline news and be shared across social media, including the many scenes of distressed wildlife and dehydrated koalas eagerly drinking water. “What’s happening in Australia with the wildfires is devastating and instead of sitting back and just watching it unfold on the news, we wanted to do something to help,” said Deena Zenger, founder of the Country School in Wainscott.
The Country School and the Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton have organized a special event, Cocktails for Koalas, to benefit the animals in need on Friday, February 7, from 6 to 8 PM at The Clubhouse in East Hampton. Proceeds will benefit the NSW (New South Wales) Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service.
WIRES is the largest wildlife rescue organization in Australia and aids in interstate efforts. It’s comprised of over 2500 volunteers across 28 branches with a dedicated rescue office open every day. The team responds to over 90,000 rescues annually with approximately 170,000 calls to one of 1300 call lines. The team is seeing requests for their services skyrocket. Since the start of recent brushfires, the website’s traffic has gone from several hundred thousand to over a million unique visitors.
Leanne Taylor, CEO of WIRES, stated, “The allocation of donations received by WIRES will be used to assist as many animals as possible across our nation. We can and will allocate funding and support to all states and territories where needed, to assist animals affected by this crisis.” Of the one billion animals affected, an estimated 800 million are from the NSW state.
One hundred percent of proceeds raised from “Cocktails for Koalas” will go toward WIRES. There will be complimentary appetizers, drink specials, music, a 50/50 raffle, and an educational speech by wildlife rescue expert Dell Cullum. Among the silent auction items will be specially created artwork from Country School students (ages two to five).
When asked why Country School felt compelled to organize an event to benefit Australian wildlife, Zenger said, “Students at the Country School have the opportunity to interact on a daily basis with our resident chickens, goats, and guinea pigs. They participate in feeding, grooming, and playing with them daily. This teaches children responsibility, compassion, and empathy.”
There will be complimentary childcare provided by the Country School, located at 7 Industrial Road in Wainscott.
The Clubhouse is located at 174 Daniels Hole Road in East Hampton. Tickets for the event are $30 in advance, or $35 at the door. Email [email protected] or call 631-537-2255 for more details.