Watching the news it's hard to look at the gut-wrenching videos of animals in pain and being killed by the Australian fires.

Ecologists in Australia now believe more than a billion animals have died in the country's unprecedented number of bush fires. (New stories now debate and refute that number but whether it's hundreds of thousands of animals or a billion hardly matters.) More than 25 million acres have burned since September—larger than the entire state of Indiana, reports CBS News.

We are given small comfort by reports of those lucky animals saved by rescuers and nursed back to health. The suffering is real and the losses could mean the extinction of some species. CBS News reports: Animals like wallabies, kangaroos and koalas exist nowhere else in the world. Now, because of the fires, Australia's koalas and other unique species could be moving closer to extinction. But there is a major grassroots effort to make sure that doesn't happen.

Usually shy animals are leaping into the arms of firefighters who are eager to help. Check out this Twitter story about a possum that ran up a fireman's leg, seeking help and shelter from the flames, smoke, and intense heat.

How can you help?

There are countless GoFundMe pages including the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which has already raised $6.6 million to help the local animals recover from their injuries. Check out the pages that are raising money to donate to the animal rescue efforts. But, consumer beware on each of these pages since there is no way to vet the charity or know that the ultimate recipient is who it says. Ellen DeGeneres is trying to raise $5 million to help the people and animals affected by the fires and news organizations like USA Today are also bringing awareness to the issues.

Firefighters are now adding foods to their rescue efforts, airdropping bushels of carrots into the wild areas where the food supply has been wiped out and the remaining animals that have survived are starving,

@Reuters

Every day the story changes but the need for support and donations doesn't. Along with the GoFundMe efforts, there are a few known charities and non-profits that we have found that can use your support.

You can donate directly to the fire departments such as this one, the New South Wales Fire Service: NSW Rural Fire Serice. Or you can donate to a fund set up in partnership between the Victorian Government and the Salvation Army. This fund in partnership is assisting those people displaced and affected by the fires. The Australian Red Cross is also accepting donations to help with fire rescue and disaster relief.