A TikTok video in which a motorist brutally mocks a woman trying to rescue a koala from a busy Gold Coast road has left wildlife rescuers dismayed.
Approximately 10 million wild animals are killed on Australia’s roads each year, and it’s volunteers who are often left to clean up the mess.
With their habitat fragmented by housing estates, koalas are frequently the victim of car strikes, and removing them from danger can be a struggle.
Uploaded to social media by a man believed to be a 29-year-old Queensland truck driver, the video is captioned: "Talking to a drop bear gone wrong".
As the driver's foul-mouthed rant begins, traffic has come to a standstill and drivers watch the attempted rescue from the comfort of their vehicles.
TikTik users question why truckie didn't help koala
The man begins commentating as the lone Good Samaritan crouches down slightly, appearing to negotiate with the marsupial.
“This b**ch trying to talk (to) a f***ing koala,” he says.
“It’s about to f*** her day up and I am about it.”
Two seconds in and the clip was already triggering anger, with one woman calling out the narrator’s “casual misogyny” in a comment.
Some TikTok users were more concerned with why the videographer did not step in to assist with the rescue.
“At least she was trying to get it to a safer place. You could've helped,” one person wrote.
Instead of helping, the man emits a high-pitched giggle as the koala moves toward her. The marsupial then attempts to climb her leg.
“Oi get ‘em, get ‘em,” he calls, appearing to encourage the animal for his own entertainment.
The rescuer jumps back hoping to avoid the koala’s strong claws, falling over backwards in the process.
The man can then be heard laughing as the 16-second clip ends.
Koala rescuer says volunteers often mocked by motorists
Professional koala rescuer Amy Wregg spoke to Yahoo News Australia amid a busy day of assisting wildlife.
Aware of the video, which features a member of the public trying to help the koala, Ms Wregg urged those untrained in wildlife management to always call in a professional for help or advice.
The whereabouts of the koala featured in the video remains unknown, despite Ms Wregg attempting to find it this afternoon.
"It's a wild animal that's scared and petrified and someone's tried to catch it. If you don't know what you're doing you can get bitten," she said.
Equally of concern to Ms Wregg was the conduct of the driver who filmed the video, something she says is not uncommon.
Even though Ms Wregg is an expert rescuer, passing motorists will often call out while she's attempting to rescue wildlife, telling her to “just leave the animals”.
“It’s just an uneducated portion of the public who think they know everything,” she said.
“They feel entitled to share their opinion and cause mayhem.”
Ms Wregg often returns home after 9pm after a busy night of volunteering, which can be tiring on its own without unhelpful commentary from the public.
During on 24 hour period this week, she came to the aid of seven koalas three were hit by cars.
One died in her arms.
TikTok users mock koala rescuer
Posted to TikTok on Thursday, the video had had attracted more than 1.1 million views by Friday morning.
Comments underneath the video showed some users surprisingly shared the narrator’s attempts at humour.
“Ha ha - the way it jumped like her leg was a tree,” wrote one TikTok user.
“She probably called it a koala bear,” someone else added.
Others joked that the woman may have been American, warning others to beware “drop bears” - a reference to a hoax about predatory koalas designed to scare tourists.
Koala advocate's wildlife rescue advice
Australian Koala Foundation CEO Deborah Tabart commended the woman for trying to help the koala, but offered some advice for budding rescuers.
Ms Tabart said koalas will often succumb quickly to humans trying to help them, but they can get scratched up quickly.
“It’s always important to protect you first, and that helps protect the koalas as well,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“Koalas are going to naturally want to climb, so I keep a pair of really good gloves in my car just in case I come across one.
“The best way to grab them is to pick them up by their hands, almost like a monkey so they can’t actually grip onto you.
“It’s always good to have a towel that you can put over them too, then you can just put it over them and scoop them up.”
Ms Tabart encouraged the rescuer in the video to contact Australian Koala Foundation, adding she’s happy to offer her a free T-shirt.
Motorists should only attempt to rescue sick, injured or displaced wildlife when it’s safe to do so, and should not risk injury to themselves. For further help contact your local wildlife volunteer group.
Attempts have been made to contact the man who posted the video.
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