The prank is designed to scare tourists while natives have a good laugh.
Australia may be reeling due to widespread bushfires, but it hasn't affected their sense of humour. A foreign reporter who is there to cover the bushfires ended up becoming the victim of a popular prank in which a person is made to wear full protective gear to handle a calm koala.
ITV News Asia correspondent Debi Edward, who was at Kangaroo Island to cover the aftermath of the bushfires, was tricked into wearing protective boots, armour, and goggles as veterinarian Dr Garnett Hall gives her some background on the threat at hand. Edward, who is Irish, was told to wear the protective gear by her Australian producer and the video of her dealing with the koala is now going viral on social media.
In the video, Dr Hall is heard saying, "Drop bears are a close cousin of the koala, but they're actually really vicious...The third most common injury that we see in tourists in Australia is actually from drop bear attack."
So finally when Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park co-owner Sam Mitchell hands the reporter a seemingly calm koala, Edward says on camera that she's "trying not to be worried, because I've been told that he can sense if I'm worried."
When someone in the background says that they're "going to grab the dart gun", the journalist asks local residents to take away the koala. She only realises it's a prank when people without any protective gear take the koala away and burst into laughter
"In times of tragedy and incessant misery, sometimes humour is the best medicine," Sean Mulcahy wrote while sharing the clip.
The prank is locally known as the 'drop bear' prank and is designed to scare tourists while locals have a good laugh. In it, locals talk about a fictional predatory, carnivorous version of the calm koala and get the tourist to believe that the marsupial might actually attack and bite.
The video went viral and left people in splits. Many Australians said this was the best version of the 'drop bear' prank ever.
Speaking to The Today Show after the video went viral, Edward said, "There were several points, looking back, obviously, where I thought 'that's maybe not quite right.' But these guys were like 'You should really try this, this is one thing we only do for our special visitors.'"
Mulcahy's video went viral around the world, and he took this opportunity to ask people to contribute towards bushfire relief.
"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," he wrote, and provided a link to a fundraiser by Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.
With 30 per cent of koala habitat being ravaged by fires, the Australian government is reportedly contemplating declaring the country’s iconic animal as “endangered”.