A koala has survived a deathly 10 mile car ride clinging to the axle of a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The accidental hitchhiker was taken on a road trip until the driver stopped when he heard the wailing of the traumatized animal. The frightened animal was hanging on for dear life.
The koala had crawled into the tiny space while the car was parked in the hills of the outskirts of Adelaide, Australia.
Stunned firefighters and animal rescue workers were immediately called to extract the koala - later named Kelli - from inside the wheel's arch, where they had to remove the tire.
"I could smell her burnt fur," Jane Brister from the Fauna Rescue charity told Reuters. “It would have been hot in there.”
While she was uninjured, rescue workers faced another somber situation: Kelli was lactating - meaning her joey (a term for infant koala) was nowhere to be found.
“I searched that night and the next day, and the next, but I never found it,” Brister said.
Following a few days of recuperating in captivity, the koala was released into the wild.
Contrary to popular belief, koalas are not classified as bears, but are instead marsupials - a type of mammal who are suckled in a pouch. Other marsupials include kangaroos, opossums, wombats, and flying squirrels.
In 2012, the koala was officially named a “vulnerable” species under an Australian conservation law. According to Reuters, there are less than 100,000 of the animals left in the wild, with the Australian Koala Foundation estimating there could be as few as 43,000.
Have you ever found an animal where it wasn't suppose to be?