A British news reporter fell victim to a prank which saw her don protective body armour to hold a koala bear.
Debi Edwards, Asia Correspondent for ITV News, was the subject of a hoax by Australian TV producer Sean Mulcahy while filming a report about the koalas being rescued from Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park amid the bushfires in South Australia.
Edwards, 40, was told she would be holing a “drop bear” a dangerous cousin of the koala which drops out of trees and attacks tourists with its claws and venomous fangs.
Putting on the suit the reporter from Aberdeen said: “It is a bit like a Batman suit so I’m a bit worried by why I need this level of protection.”
Vet Dr Garnett Hall told her: “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.”
He added: “The third most common injury that we see in tourists in Australia is actually from drop bear attack.”
Edwards look increasingly nervous as she held the bear - which was passed to her by a man wearing no protective gear at all.
This was one of 40 Koalas rescued and brought to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park today. Unfortunately many of them did not survive. A heartbreaking time for everyone there 😢 Pic courtesy of @ANPTV https://t.co/bMzRFNsgV2 pic.twitter.com/0K2vL2q1dC— Debi Edward (@debiedwarditv) January 11, 2020
She told the camera: “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.”
Read more: Kylie Minogue donates £261,000 to tackle Australian bushfire crisis
After being warned the bear looked poised to attack Edwards said: “S**t, s**t, I’m really not okay. Please take it off me.”
After passing the bear back she suddenly realised it had all been a joke and began laughing, before muttering: “F***ing Aussies!”
Mulcahy shared the video online writing: “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.”