Foxtel will screen Bear – Koala Hero is an exclusive one-hour special presented by wildlife activist Tyson Mayr in two weeks time.
The special follows the journey of an extraordinary dog and his team, as they rescue and rehabilitate Australia’s iconic native animal, the koala.
This remarkable koala detection dog called Bear became the ultimate beacon of hope during Australia’s recent bushfire crisis, working tirelessly to find koalas injured and displaced as a result of the devastation surrounding them.
The damage from this season’s bushfires is incalculable – and with vast tracts of Australian bushland razed, experts estimate that one billion-plus animals have perished, with some populations of the eucalypt-dwelling, slow-moving koalas at risk of becoming endangered.
Travel presenter and wildlife campaigner Tyson Mayr was compelled to act after his own family’s farm withstood Queensland’s Darling Downs fire in November 2019. After hearing the cries of injured koalas and wildlife, Tyson contacted the International Fund for Animal Welfare and was introduced to the Detection Dogs for Conservation program at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland – and their charge, the blue-eyed koala detection dog Bear.
Tyson Mayr said: “Growing up in the country you develop a special affinity with wildlife, and when the fires were first approaching I remember feeling so helpless. The koalas in particular were so vulnerable, and from everything I had already seen it was hard to not worry about their overall survival as a species. I wanted to help, I wanted to do more, but I didn’t know where to start.
“Meeting Bear restored my hope for the future of koalas. Spending time with him at some of the worst-hit fire grounds, I quickly saw just how much of an impact he was having. Not just with the koalas he was saving, but also the smiles he was bringing to the already tired and exhausted wildlife carers, rescuers and vets from around the country. He was saving lives, but he was also restoring the faith of those who needed it the most.”
In Bear – Koala Hero, Tyson follows the boot-wearing Bear and his handlers as they scour burnt-out bushland in southern Queensland and New South Wales during the summer of 2020, searching for sick and injured koalas.
One of five dogs in the Detection Dogs for Conservation program and formerly a rescue dog, Bear is an Australian Koolie – a herding dog with an obsessive nature. Bear’s boundless energy and passion during the bushfire crisis made him a standout detection dog and a breakout star on social media, even garnering the admiration of Hollywood star Tom Hanks.
Also featured in the special are Bear’s handler, vet Dr Romane Cristescu, and USC’s Detection Dogs for Conservation colleague and koala authority Dr Celine Frere, as Tyson traces the koalas’ rescue, recovery and return to nature.
Bear – Koala Hero explores the work of this incredible team as well as the critical issues regarding the environmental crisis, the broader wildlife impact, and the heroic efforts of the ﬁreﬁghters, animal rescuers, and the animals themselves.
Produced by Butter Media for Foxtel, Bear – Koala Hero is a heart-warming, one-hour special event premiering on Wednesday, March 18 at 8.30pm, exclusive to LifeStyle.