One cyclist stopped to aid a displaced koala in Australia last week, making a “new best friend” in the process.
Anna Heusler was on a biking outing with a group of cyclist friends on Thursday when they encountered a koala positioned in the middle of the road in Adelaide, South Australia.
Though koala sightings aren’t uncommon in the area, what came next was particularly unusual — the wild animal approached the cyclists, thirsty for a drink of water.
“This Koala walked right up to me as I was descending and climbed up onto my bike while I gave him water,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of the animal sitting on her bike spokes as she patted its head. “BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO ME ON A RIDE EVER.”
“There were about a dozen cyclists around me watching this (all men) and several commented that it was genuinely the best thing they’ve witnessed,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of the remarkable moment. “What a truly wonderful experience.”
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“9 out of 10 Koalas prefer Specialized 😂😂😂,” she joked in another caption, remarking on the thirsty koala’s eased latching to the water bottle.
Koala are among the wildlife affected by the raging bushfires in Southern Australia, damaging ecosystems and leaving animals who are able to escape the flames in dire, desperate conditions.
“My new best friend 🐨” Heusler captioned another post. “Coming for a ride on my bike this morning on another 40 degree Celsius day in Adelaide, South Australia 🇦🇺 where we are in the midst of a heatwave and the countryside is burning out of control with bushfires 🔥 for several days now.”
She added: “Devastating losses of homes and wildlife. Brave firefighters. 🙏”
Heusler told CNN that after drinking from her bottle and another cyclist’s, the refreshed koala was moved off the road.
“We stopped the bikes to help the koala get off the road otherwise they get hit by cars,” she told the outlet of the encounter. “But the koala walked up to me very quickly, he was obviously very thirsty.”
Recounting the scenario, Heusler said she’s never seen a koala move that quickly, noting that the animal isn’t usually one to approach humans.
“There’s nothing but tragedy in Australia. It’s burning out of control,” Heusler said. “I hope this episode helps spread awareness. The firefighters are the real heroes, not me.”