A British ITV reporter fell for a classic Aussie prank when she donned body armour to hold a koala.
Debi Edwards was told the animal was a ‘drop bear’ – a dangerous predator which plunges from trees to land on humans and attack them with its venomous teeth.
Tourists have fallen for versions of this for decades, but Debi, 40, had never heard of the ruse.
The ITV News Asia correspondent got dressed up in protective boots and safety goggles to take hold of the bear.
She panicked while holding it, asking for someone to take it away from her.
Carers told her they might have to subdue it with a dart gun as it was preparing to attack her.
But when they took it off her and cuddled it without wearing any protective gear, she realised she had been tricked.
‘F***ing Aussies,’ Debi, from Aberdeen, said while laughing.
In the video vet Dr Garnett Hall warned Miss Edward of the threat posed by the ‘drop bear’.
He said: ‘Drop bears are a close cousin of the koala, but they’re actually really vicious.
‘They’re bigger, they’ve got longer claws – they’ve actually got really small fangs, and the interesting thing about the fangs is they have a really mild venom. It’s not like a snake venom that can make you really sick, it just causes a lot of really local irritation.
‘The third most common injury that we see in tourists in Australia is actually from drop bear attack.’
Debi was covering the devastation caused by bushfires on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, on Saturday.She said: ‘I’ve been told that this is quite a dangerous bear, it’s been known to attack people (Picture: Sean Mulcahy/Facebook)
She agreed to hold the bear while visiting Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, where koalas rescued in the fires are being treated.
Footage of the incident was uploaded to Facebook and has been played on Australian television networks.
It shows Debi looking terrified as she clutched the friendly creature.
She said: ‘I’ve been told that this is quite a dangerous bear, it’s been known to attack people.
‘It’s called a drop bear because they drop out of the trees to attack people.
‘I’m trying not to be worried because I’ve been told that he can sense if I’m worried.’
After being told the bear might be preparing an attack, the reporter says: ‘Sh*t, sh*t, I’m really not okay. Please take it off me.’
After a few moments, a carer took the koala back from Edward and the crew burst out laughing.
Sean Mulcahy, who was in on the joke, said: ‘I have had the pleasure of working with her now on a number of occasions and she is an exceptional journalist and a lovely lady.
‘However, I am Australian and by proclamation a dirty rotten scoundrel.
‘If you enjoyed this video, please don’t let Debi’s humiliation be in vain. Please donate directly to help the park who are treating these koalas.’