Viral video shows that while koalas are cute, they’re not always that cuddly.
Here in the U.S., far from native habitats of koalas, we tend to think of these marsupials as pretty similar to cuddly plush toys. But in a viral video from Victoria, Australia is a good reminder that you might not want to snuggle up next to one.
The video was shot by Ebony Churchill, a dairy farmer, as she was herding on a quad bike.
“He was close but then he started running towards me and I thought I better speed up,” Churchill told The Advertiser. “They’ve got hard, sharp claws and I didn’t want to have him grabbing at my leg as I was on the bike.”
Churchill told the local paper that she thought the koala had fallen head over heels for her, but animal experts suggest that it was the bike he was pursuing. “Male koalas frequently bellow in response to airplanes, tractors, chain saws, etc.," Desley Whisson told Mashable. Whisson is a wildlife and conservation biologist at Deakin University in Australia. “It may be that they confuse these noises as bellows by other koalas. We’re at the beginning of the breeding season so perhaps heightened testosterone levels may be responsible."
However, Whisson does point out that this is pretty unusual behavior for a koala—animals that are more likely to run away from humans than towards them. Her advice is “to not engage with a koala displaying a weird behavior” and to avoid letting them climb you.
As for Churchill, she waited until the koala lost interest in her bike tire and wandered off, and the experience didn’t seem to lessen her feelings of his adorableness. “He was a gorgeous koala — really, really cute.”