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Last Updated: Thursday August 06 2009 12:32 GMT

Bush fire koala dies in Australia

Koala drinking water

Watch the video of Sam's rescue

A koala which became a celebrity after being rescued from raging fires in Australia has died during surgery.

Sam the koala was found by firefighters back in February, wandering through the forest with badly burnt paws, She was taken to a vet's to recover.

She looked like she was doing well, but was found to have a disease which affects lots of koalas.

During surgery to deal with the problem, it was found she was too sick and vets had to put her to sleep.

Australian Prime Minister's tribute to koala

The fires in Australia caused lots of damage, killing nearly 200 people, and leaving 5,000 people homeless.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the images of Sam had become a symbol of hope for people during the fires.

"Sam the koala was part of the symbolism of that and it's tragic that Sam the koala is no longer with us," he said.