Australia is in the midst of one of the worst bushfire crises the world has seen. Since September, entire communities have been engulfed by relentless heat and fires.
The flames are showing no signs of slowing down - which means only one thing... death tolls are rising.
But, this week, one man has been hailed a hero after risking his life to save animals at his zoo. Keep scrolling to see the terrifying picture as the zoo came close to perishing...
Australia is being ravished by one of the worst bush fire crises the world has seen in decades.
via: Getty ImagesDue to soaring temperatures and one of the worst droughts in years, the relentless fires have been burning since September. We're currently in January. Just let that sink in.
New South Wales is suffering immensely at the moment.
via: Getty ImagesThere have been fires reported in every state, but New South Wales is truly taking a beating by bush fires and is undoubtedly the hardest hit. More than 2,200 houses have been destroyed.
NSW declared a state of emergency last month.
via: Getty ImagesWhat does this mean? Well, it grants "extraordinary powers" to the NSWRFS commissioner, including the authority to allocate government resources and direct government agencies in taking action, according to CNN.
Twenty-eight people have been confirmed to have died in the fires since they started...
via: Getty ImagesIncluding several volunteer firefighters.
And it's not just the flames themselves that are having deadly consequences...
via: Getty ImagesLast month, the smoke was so bad in Sydney that air quality measured eleven times the "hazardous" level, CNN reports.
The fires have also had a devasting impact on wildlife.
via: Getty ImagesSeveral of Australia's native species have been affected including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, possums, wombats, and echidnas.
And the latest statistics are some of the most alarming yet.
And that's not all...It's feared that animals that managed to survive the flames will need huge amounts of humanitarian assistance to get populations anywhere near back to what they used to be.
A staggering number of animals have perished in the fires.
via: Getty ImagesAnd its only set to get worse.
Over one billion animals have died.CBS News reports that it's thought now over one billion mammals, birds, and reptiles have died since September.
The Australian fire services have also been struggling...Firefighters all over the country have been tirelessly battling the formidable blazes and are struggling to contain them, and the fire services are truly stretched to their limits.
Australia has ultimately been forced to make a global call for help...
via: Getty ImagesAnd it was Canada that was the first to respond and take action. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, based in Winnipeg, answered the call for help after realizing the bush fire situation is expected to continue for many more weeks and they even gave up their Christmases to help fight the raging fires.
Other countries offered their assistance...
via: Getty ImagesIncluding the U.S. and New Zealand, who have sent in more firefighters to try and help tackles the blazes.
Volunteers have been stepping forward all around the country...
via: CBCOrdinary people with regular professions have been volunteering to help tackle the flames and they have been working for free.
And one of these heroes is Chad Staples.
Mogo zoo is home to more than 200 animals which Chad calls his "family."
As the fire came terrifyingly close to his zoo, Chad explained the sky turned red and the conditions were "apocalyptic."said.
Instead of fleeing, he and his team of fifteen zookeepers stayed to protect their land and animals.
At one point, a fire service even stopped by to tell them that no one would rescue them should things took a turn.
"They were busting a gut to save everyone else," Chad explained. "I've never felt heat like that or seen fires that look like that and I never want to see that again."
Many of the animals took shelter at Chad's own home.Daily Mail, the zoo's 6 zebras, 2 rhinos, 6 giraffes, 4 gorillas, 3 tigers, and 6 lions were all given shelter, with some residing in Chad's own home on the property and others in their night dens.
"Right now in my house there are animals of all descriptions in all the different rooms so they're safe and protected,' he said after the blaze swept through."