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 Images

Due 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 Images

There 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 Images

What 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 Images

Including several volunteer firefighters.

And it's not just the flames themselves that are having deadly consequences...

via: Getty Images

Last 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 Images

Several 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.

The country is totally unprepared for the devastation caused to its wildlife. Science for Wildlife executive director Dr Kellie Leigh told the New South Wales upper house inquiry: "We're getting a lot of lessons out of this and it's just showing how unprepared we are.
"There's no procedures or protocols in place - even wildlife carers don't have protocols for when they can go in after fire."

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 Images

And 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 Images

And 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 Images

Including 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: CBC

Ordinary 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.

The 40-year-old is the director an Australian zoo who risked his life to save his animals.

Mogo zoo is home to more than 200 animals which Chad calls his "family."

And when the fires tore through the New South Wales south coast, coming dangerously close to his zoo, Chad never once considered abandoning his animals to save his own life.

As the fire came terrifyingly close to his zoo, Chad explained the sky turned red and the conditions were "apocalyptic."

"Flaming trees collapsed close to animal enclosures as the fire jumped over a stream on two sides of the grounds. The sky turned red and Mogo fell into complete darkness by noon," he said.

The fire came close to engulfing the entire zoo.

The pictures are truly harrowing.

Instead of fleeing, he and his team of fifteen zookeepers stayed to protect their land and animals.

"There's no way we would leave the animals behind. These are family - not things."

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.

According to 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."

Unbelievably, Chad and his team managed to save every animal.

Not a single life at the zoo was lost to the relentless fires. Want the latest on the bushfires? Keep scrolling to see the harrowing images that truly sum up the devastation. Just wait until you see number one. So heartbreaking...