A cyclist has recalled what really happened when a dehydrated koala drank from her water bottle in the middle of a sweltering heatwave.
Anna Heusler was riding into Adelaide’s CBD on Friday when she came across the marsupial sitting in the middle of the road feeling the effects of the 42C heat.
Her partner Andrew filmed the heartwarming moment the koala raced towards her bike and began taking massive gulps from her water bottle.
Ms Heusler said she often escorted koalas off the road to stop them from being struck by cars but had never seen one race towards her bike before.
The koala was thirsty after the Adelaide Hills fires destroyed eucalyptus trees
‘We were descending from the hills back into the city when I came around the bend and the little guy was sitting in the middle of the road, so we stopped to shoo him off the road,’ Ms Heusler told Channel Seven’s Sunrise on Monday.
‘But he quickly walked up to me, climbed up to my bike and started drinking from the water bottles.
‘Typically koalas don’t move a lot and I’ve never seen one move that fast.
‘He literally walked right up to me and walked on my bike. He made it clear that he wanted me to stop.’
Several other cyclists also stopped to help the distressed koala.
‘I was getting all their water bottles and giving him as much as we could and made sure he was off the road and back to safety,’ Ms Heusler said.
‘He wasn’t injured, he was very healthy, just thirsty.’
The koala was spotted in the middle of the road when it approached the group of cyclists
The kind cyclists escorted the koala towards nearby bushland, which is yet to be ravaged by recent bushfires that have destroyed 25,000 hectares in the Adelaide Hills in the last week.
The footage has since gone viral worldwide with millions of online views.
‘I received an overwhelming amount of messages from people around the world in the thousands and I have been contacted by worldwide media and I am completely humbled by the experience,’ Ms Heusler said.
‘It has been unbelievable.’
She described the experience as gorgeous.
‘I kept to my partner Andrew, I literally said, “It is the most amazing thing that has happened to me during a ride. And we do a lot of cycling around the world,’ she said.
Ms Heusler also paid tribute to the firefighters, animal welfare groups looking after wildlife displace from their destroyed habitat and the many people who have lost their homes in the Adelaide Hills in the last week.
‘They’re the real heroes,’ she said.
Ms Heusler shared the adorable but heartbreaking images to her Instagram at the time.
‘Australian Koala Bears suffering severe thirst in a heatwave. This koala walked right up to me as I was descending and climbed up onto my bike while I gave him water,’ she captioned the photo.
‘Best thing to happen to me on a ride ever.’
The recent bushfires in the Adelaide Hills have burned 25,000 hectares of land, leaving koalas scavenging on a desperate hunt and food and water.
Adelaide Koala Rescue is currently caring around the clock care for dozens of koalas displaced by the bushfires.
It has appealed for residents living in and around bushfire-ravaged areas to put out water and keep a look out for visitors who may need help.
‘The fire-ravaged areas of the Adelaide Hills are not pleasant places to be. By day they’re unbearably hot deserts of ash that provide no shade for survivors,’ Adelaide Koala Rescue posted on Facebook on Sunday.
‘Day and night the forests are eerie. The former koala habitat smells like death and feels apocalyptic.
The koala climbed onto Ms Heusler’s bike and gulped down water from her bottle
‘Out there though we continue searching. We’ve seen things we’d rather not have and are tired but still have hope. The koalas we’re rescuing, even if not burnt are dehydrated and starving.’
The threat of more bushfires continued on Monday as temperatures in Adelaide surged towards 40C, sparking a catastrophic fire danger rating.
The Country Fire Service also warned about lightning strikes in the state’s south-east.
A much-needed cooler change is on the way with a top of 25C forecast for Adelaide on Tuesday.