The Australian Firefighters Calendar was established in 1993 to support the Children's Hospital Foundation, providing funds for research into childhood burns. Since then, it has raised over $3.2 million for various charities, and considering the way 2020 has unfolded so far, we really need it this year too.
"2019 and early 2020 was a particularly devastating time, and the world grieved with Australia as we suffered through catastrophic bushfires, and an estimated loss of 1 billion animals from our diverse native wildlife," The Australian Firefighters Calendar team explained to Bored Panda in a statement. "While the fires may have gone, the destroyed bushland has made it impossible for many of the displaced wildlife to return to their natural habitat."
This year, the popular 'Animal Lovers' Calendar will be more important than ever. While funds from last year's 2020 calendar helped pay for new equipment and supplies for nearly 6 months , the 2021 edition should play a vital role in treating injured wildlife from the recent fires.
"Every year, hundreds of firefighters from around Australia submit photos to be part of the calendar photoshoot, but only 24 are chosen to come to the photoshoot on the Gold Coast," David Rogers, the director of the Australian Firefighters Calendar told Bored Panda. "Even then, there is no guarantee that you will have a successful photo included in the calendar."
The animals you see in the photos come from a few local refuge charities. "They will bring dogs, puppies, kittens and cats. We also use therapy horses who have helped autistic children and adults suffering from mental illness," Rogers explained. "And we use Australian Wildlife from the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary. Ducklings, alpacas, goats, and lams, we have every animal you can think of at the photoshoot."
Some firefighters bond so well with the animals they're posing with, they even adopt them! "We have had firefighters adopt puppies and kittens from the photoshoot," Rogers said, adding that the animals are the stars of the show. "They never misbehave. It's like the animals know they are being photographed." That being said, the whole process takes time. This year's photoshoot, for example, lasted 17 days.
But all the effort is for a really good cause. "No one was left unaffected watching our precious wildlife trying to escape from the bushfires, and the loss of wildlife is beyond comprehension," Rogers recalled the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, which was dubbed the Black Summer. "Everyone at the Australian Firefighters Calendar decided that all our efforts needed to be focused on Australian Wildlife this year."
The 2021 calendars will be raising funds for native animal charities that are vital to supporting the fragile wildlife. One of these is the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, where Dr. Stephen Van Mil and his team are building Australia's first mobile wildlife hospital to be used in emergencies.