Sam the Koala Bear Healing, Dating!

02/12/2009 AT 08:30 AM EST



Valentine's Day has come early to "Sam" the koala, the most famous furry survivor of Australia's worst-ever wildfires.

Well on the mend with the aid of caretakers at the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter near Melbourne, Sam – who captured hearts around the world after she was photographed drinking from a firefighter's water bottle – even has a new boyfriend, "Bob," who is being seen as her protector, the Associated Press reports.

David Tree, the firefighter who found Sam – who was first thought to be a boy bear – as she was moving gingerly on scorched paws, appeared on Thursday's Today show to tell of his foundling.

Speaking from Down Under, Tree recounted his discovery of Sam and how he held out water bottle to her, which she eagerly accepted as she held Tree's hand.

"You all right, buddy?" asked Tree – who was amazed at just how thirsty the bear was.

How to Help Fire Victims

The wildfires in Australia have so far claimed 181 lives, 1,000 homes, and left at least 5,000 people homeless. Australian stars Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are among 150 politicians, musicians, actors and sports stars participating in a nationally televised fundraising appeal on Thursday.

Those in the U.S. wishing to make a tax-deductible donation can do so through the American Australian Association's Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund Web site.

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