Wild Koala Swims Out to Canoe and Hitches a Ride [VIDEO]
Local members of the Burleigh Point Outrigger Canoe Club recently got the wildlife encounter of a lifetime while paddling across Tallebudgera Creek on Australia's Gold Coast. A wild koala, after having spotted the canoers floating by, apparently decided to swim out to the boat and climb aboard for a ride, according to a report by Nine News.
One of the surprised Club members caught the whole event on video and posted it to YouTube, which you can view here:
Canoers were understably shocked to see the furry little marsupial take to the water and start for their boat. The koala can be seen scraping at the boat with its claws before one person instinctually lifts it into the canoe.
"It took a sip of water and then saw us and obviously decided to come straight over," said Julie Elliot, who filmed the encounter. "Then it started clawing at the boat and we didn't know what to do."
"We were thinking it was going to drown so my mate behind me just grabbed him and put him straight in the boat."
Since koalas are usually seen snacking on leaves up in trees-- not swimming across creeks-- the instinct to try to 'save' the animal from drowning is forgivable. The truth is, though, that while a swimming koala is unusual, it is not unheard of. Koalas aren't great leapers, so to move from one tree to another they have to climb down and walk. When a creek or river stands in the way of a new feeding area, they also occasionally swim.
They don't usually hitch rides on canoes, though. It's unclear why the koala headed straight for the canoe in this case. Perhaps it was just crossing the creek and the canoe got in the way, though judging by the tameness of the animal it may also be accustomed to interacting with humans. The report did note that the koala was later released on the embankment of a local golf club where koalas are known to populate the gum trees.
Though this koala looks harmless, cute and cuddly, it should be noted that handling them can be dangerous for both the person and the animal. Not only can koalas be very aggressive when provoked (those claws are deadly sharp), but handling them is known to cause stress. They are wild animals, and under normal circumstances it's always best to leave them be when an encounter takes place.
By Bryan Nelson
A couple more clips of the encounter on Tallebudgera Creek can be viewed here: