Photos: Australian couple who saved baby kangaroos from the fires

Even as a fierce bushfire bore down on the rural Australian community of Wytaliba, Gary Wilson and his partner Julie Willis decided not to flee their timber home - they had a house full of orphaned baby kangaroos to protect. More than a dozen of the marsupials snuggled into fabric pouches hung in the couple's living room, like stockings on Christmas Eve. While Wilson and Willis usually care for joeys rescued after their mothers are struck by vehicles, they are now hosting an increasing number of fire orphans.

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST 8 Photos
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An orphaned kangaroo joey that was rescued during the bushfire season, stands inside the living room of animal caretakers Gary Wilson and Julie Willis’s home in Wytaliba, New South Wales. Even as a fierce bushfire bore down on the rural Australian community of Wytaliba, Wilson and his partner Willis decided not to flee their timber home, instead they housed orphaned baby kangaroos to protect. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

An orphaned kangaroo joey that was rescued during the bushfire season, stands inside the living room of animal caretakers Gary Wilson and Julie Willis’s home in Wytaliba, New South Wales. Even as a fierce bushfire bore down on the rural Australian community of Wytaliba, Wilson and his partner Willis decided not to flee their timber home, instead they housed orphaned baby kangaroos to protect. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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Wilson and Willis outside their home. More than a dozen of the marsupials snuggled into fabric pouches hung in the couple’s living room, like stockings on Christmas Eve. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

Wilson and Willis outside their home. More than a dozen of the marsupials snuggled into fabric pouches hung in the couple’s living room, like stockings on Christmas Eve. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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Full-grown kangaroos and other wildlife that had left their care long ago also came back to the house in search of refuge as the flames approached. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

Full-grown kangaroos and other wildlife that had left their care long ago also came back to the house in search of refuge as the flames approached. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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Willis feeds orphaned kangaroo joeys in the living room of her home. “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 and then the firestorm came through and pretty much burned everything,” Wilson told Reuters. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

Willis feeds orphaned kangaroo joeys in the living room of her home. “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 and then the firestorm came through and pretty much burned everything,” Wilson told Reuters. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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Wilson and Willis defended their home for at least 14 hours with fire extinguishers, water pumps and a sprinkler system on the roof that doused burning embers falling from the sky. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

Wilson and Willis defended their home for at least 14 hours with fire extinguishers, water pumps and a sprinkler system on the roof that doused burning embers falling from the sky. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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The remains of a burnt down house, destroyed during the bushfire season in the community of Wytaliba. Good preparation and more than an ounce of luck meant the couple’s cypress-pine home still stands - and the motherless joeys survived. The November 8 fire that swept through the small Wytaliba community, which was originally set up as a commune in the 1970s, killed two of Wilson’s neighbours. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

The remains of a burnt down house, destroyed during the bushfire season in the community of Wytaliba. Good preparation and more than an ounce of luck meant the couple’s cypress-pine home still stands - and the motherless joeys survived. The November 8 fire that swept through the small Wytaliba community, which was originally set up as a commune in the 1970s, killed two of Wilson’s neighbours. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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Willis said she had never seen fires so fierce, and that most animals, such as possums, gliders, echidnas, lizards and even many birds were not fast enough to escape the flames. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

Willis said she had never seen fires so fierce, and that most animals, such as possums, gliders, echidnas, lizards and even many birds were not fast enough to escape the flames. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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While Wilson and Willis usually care for joeys rescued after their mothers are struck by vehicles, they are now hosting an increasing number of fire orphans. Willis said the joeys, which are fed a special milk formula every two to four hours just like their human counterparts, will eventually be released back into the wild. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

While Wilson and Willis usually care for joeys rescued after their mothers are struck by vehicles, they are now hosting an increasing number of fire orphans. Willis said the joeys, which are fed a special milk formula every two to four hours just like their human counterparts, will eventually be released back into the wild. (Jorge Silva / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 08:09 PM IST
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