Koalas have been mysteriously appearing all around New York City in a bid to raise funds and awareness of Australia’s bushfire crisis. Picture: Instagram
Koalas have been mysteriously appearing all around New York City in a bid to raise funds and awareness of Australia’s bushfire crisis. Picture: Instagram

New Yorkers dig deep in koala campaign

Organisers of the Koalas of NYC campaign have increased their fundraising goal following an outpouring of support from New Yorkers.

Koalas of NYC spokesperson Diane Villavieja told News Corp Australia that as well as raising much-needed funds for Australian wildlife, the toy koalas have been helping to educate people about what is happening in Australia.

A small army of plush koalas have popped up across New York City. Picture: Instagram
A small army of plush koalas have popped up across New York City. Picture: Instagram

 

Koalas of NYC is raising money for WIRES. Picture: Instagram
Koalas of NYC is raising money for WIRES. Picture: Instagram

"Thanks to all the donors, we just reached our initial $10,000 goal today!  With the tremendous support we've received so far, the goal has now been changed to $15k," Ms Villavieja said. "Seeing people's reaction to the koalas is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. We met with some people when we were in the field and a woman actually cried when she read the copy on the tag of the koala and shook our hands and thanked us for doing this. She had no idea that a billion animals have been affected including those that already face extinction.

 

A small army of plush koalas have popped up across New York City. Picture: Instagram
A small army of plush koalas have popped up across New York City. Picture: Instagram

About 100 toy koalas started appearing on lampposts and poles in Brooklyn and Manhattan last week, presenting a striking contrast to New York's iconic backdrops of Yellow Cabs, the Empire State Building, and green subway globes?

Chip Rolley, a former director of the Sydney Writers Festival and currently Senior Director of Literary Programs at PEN America, spotted the toy koalas and tweeted about the phenomenon.

 

Mr Rolley told News Corp Australia he spotted one koala when he was on the New York University campus at University Place in the city. A colleague he was with then said they'd seen them elsewhere.

Pinned to the koalas is a tag displaying an urgent message: "1 billion of the world's unique wildlife has died in the Australian bushfires."

 

 

 

The stuffed plush koala toys have been scattered and positioned in locations all over New York City bearing tags that have a QR code which takes you to koalasofnyc.com and to their Go Fund Me page.

Organisers stated that Koalas of NYC "and 6 others" are raising funds and awareness for WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service).

 

 

New York City is currently home to many Australians "who want to do everything they can from far away to help save their beloved country and its beautiful and endangered wildlife from the Australian Bushfires that are sweeping the continent," says the page.

According to DHS data, 14,696 Australians (and their families) were in New York State on E-3 visas in 2017.

 

 

And New York City's own legendary fireys and first responders to urban disasters are even on board with the campaign, posing happily with the plush koalas.

 

New York's biggest media outlets, from NBC to the New York Times have been reporting on the Australian bushfires, expressing concern for ecological impact and animal welfare.

 

The chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, James Gorman, announced that he was donating $1 million to support bushfire relief - but as the head of a major financial company pegged to the trade of fossil fuel stocks he received a bit of blowback.

 

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Legendary New York performance venues such as Joe's Pub are holding benefits, such as Mondays in the Pub For Australia, with proceeds from the $US20 cover charge going to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

New York-based former Food Network chef Michele Ragussis started Chefs For DisasterRelief in response to the Australian bushfires and has enlisted the support of her fellow celebrity chefs who are donating signed recipe books, coats, and knives to be auctioned off for the cause.

 

And Broadway Cares, on behalf of all of Broadway, Off-Broadway and the national theatre tours, is awarding $US100,000 in emergency grants to help provide immediate assistance to organisations doing vital, lifesaving, on-the-ground work in Australia, with two grants of $US50,000 each being sent to NSW Rural Fire Services & Brigades and WIRES.

 

 

 


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