HART COUNTY, Ky. (WBKO) - Deadly wildfires in Australia continue to burn as the country faces one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent years.
According to ABC News, more than 12.35 million acres of land have burned since the brush fire season started in September 2019.
Officials estimate the fires have killed more than 20 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.
It is estimated that nearly 500 million animals have been killed by the fires and nearly 1 billion animals will be impacted.
In South Central Kentucky one local zoo is doing their part to help out.
Kentucky Down Under, an Australia-themed zoo in Horse Cave, is donating 50% of their January proceeds to the Australia Zoo to support their efforts to care for the animals that are suffering from the devastation caused by the fires.
"So Australia Zoo has got a ton of people down there doing all kinds of amazing efforts they are saving animals by the tens of thousands to get them out of the way for the fires, treating them in their hospitals and anything we can do to help we are more than happy to," said Mick McGill, General Manager at Kentucky down under.
McGill was born and raised in South Australia. He says he's keeping his phone close waiting for updates from home.
"Looking online and seeing photos of my town, you know, and just the fires that are going through there and it's heartbreaking, it really is," said McGill. "Just complete carnage that's happened through Australia, you know, you are seeing pictures of just million of dead animals, the population count right now of dead animals has actually exceeded 500 million. That's a number I can't even get my head around."
Wildlife experts say the full extent of the damage is still unknown, but some of the millions of animals that have died include koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and other well-known species of Down Under.
McGill told 13 News the eucalyptus trees in Australia are highly flammable and makes fighting these fires extremely difficult.
"So when these fires start it's not just a fire that you might be able to put out with a few helicopters and call it a day it really is an overly intense heat that has been able to melt the roadways and people are getting hours to get out of the way, the animals are getting no time at all," said McGill.
This map provides a look at the fire currently burning in Australia.
Kentucky Down Under is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 7 days a week.