In southern Australia a koala was found clinging to the wheel axle of an SUV. The koala traveled 10 miles before other drivers alerted the SUV motorist to the koala gripping the bottom of the vehicle.
The koala grabbed hold of the wheel axle while the vehicle was parked. Staff from Fauna Rescue took the animal into their care for just a few days of recuperation. They then released it back into the wild, reported Fauna Rescue of South Australia.
Firefighters had to remove the wheel in order to free the animal. The koala was crying a little bit but was otherwise fine, with only minor injuries.
Animal rescue workers noticed the hair pattern on the koala’s back, indicating that this was a mother koala carrying her baby before the incident. The baby is believed to have been lost during the ride on the wheel axle. Animal workers could not find it after a thorough search, Australia’s ABC News reported.
In 2015 ABC reported a driver hitting a koala at about 62 mph. The driver thought the animal must have died in the collision, but when the driver arrived home, about 6 miles later, the koala was alive, lodged in the grille of the car. The driver and her family helped the animal grab onto a blanket to pull itself free. They then let the animal rest in their garage before animal care workers arrived.
As to why koalas end up in situations like these, Don Bigham from Fauna Rescue told ABC “They don’t behave in an extremely bright manner sometimes.” He added, “They walk down the middle of the road, [even] sit on roads.”
A similar road collision weeks after that one resulted in a koala with its head lodged in the grille of vehicle. A neighbor dislodged the koala. It ran off, jumped over a fence, and climbed up a tree. A koala rescue organization captured the animal and brought it in for a checkup. The car had issues with its cooling and radiation system after the incident.
Koalas now only survive in “the tall eucalypt forests and low eucalypt woodlands of mainland eastern Australia, and on some islands off the southern and eastern coasts,” according to the Australian Koala Foundation. The foundation estimates that 4,000 koalas are killed each year by dogs and cars. Their fading habitat leaves them vulnerable.