Bushfire Rescue Sam the Koala Dies

Sam the koala, who gained worldwide fame and sympathy when she was rescued during Australia's devastating wildfires this year, was euthanized Thursday after a veterinarian found the cysts that threatened her life were inoperable.

The 4-year-old koala had developed the cysts associated with urogenital chlamydiosis, which affects more than 50 percent of Australia's koala population.

During surgery, the disease was found to be so advanced that it was inoperable and Sam was euthanized, said Peita Elkhorne of TressCox law firm, which represents the shelter where the koala had lived since the February fires, The Associated Press reports.

"It is with great sadness today that TressCox Lawyers on behalf of the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter announce that Sam the Koala has lost her latest fight for survival," an Australian wildlife shelter said in a statement. "Sam became a symbol of hope and determination across the nation for both survivors of the black Saturday bush fires and all those that fought and lent support throughout the community," CNN International reports.

A spokeswoman for lawyers who represent the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter said: "It was so severe that there was no possible way to be able to manage her pain.

"All of those who have been involved with Sam are devastated with this loss."

Even Australian Prime Minister commented on the animal's death, saying she had been a symbol of hope for Australia during the wildfires.

"It's tragic that Sam the koala is no longer with us," Mr Rudd said, Sky News reports.

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