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Koala "symbol of hope" dies in Australia
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20:36, August 06, 2009

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Sam the koala, made famous by footage of her drinking from a firefighter's water bottle during Australia's bushfires around Melbourne last summer, lost her life on Thursday.

The four-year-old koala died after undergoing surgery to remove cysts associated with chlamydia, a disease which had ravaged Victoria's koala population.

The touching image of firefighter David Tree offering Sam a gulp of water from his bottle flashed around the world during the February fires.

Despite suffering burns to her paws and smoke inhalation, Sam provided welcome inspiration to whose who had lost everything.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the world had seen the photo of Sam as a "symbol of hope".

A koala named Sam receives water from Country Fire Authority volunteer fire fighter Dave Tree after being rescued from the Victorian bushfires in the area of Mirboo North, about 120km (75 miles) southeast of Melbourne, in this February 8, 2009 file photo.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

"I think that gave people of the world a great sense that this country, Australia, could come through those fires - as we have," Rudd told reporters.

"Sam the koala was part of the symbolism of that and it's tragic that Sam the koala is no longer with us."

Source: Xinhua

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