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Behind the Wheel Amid 6-Car Pileup: This Guy

Wild koala had quite a day on Monday
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2021 8:40 AM CST
Updated Feb 13, 2021 7:00 AM CST
Behind the Wheel Amid 6-Car Pileup: This Guy
This photo released by Nadia Tugwell, shows a koala on eucalyptus tree after being released from a freeway in Adelaide, Australia on Monday.   (Nadia Tugwell via AP)

(Newser) – A koala marched onto a busy freeway in Australia on Monday, prompting a six-car pileup, before deciding he, too, should get behind the wheel. Photos of the koala gripping a vehicle's steering wheel have now gone viral. They were taken by Nadia Tugwell, who was caught in traffic behind the pileup on Adelaide's six-lane South Eastern Freeway. She wasn't sure what had caused the accident—luckily, only minor injuries were reported—until she saw a woman chasing a "cute" koala, who was "stomping between the cars," per the Guardian. A male driver had initially stopped his vehicle in an effort to catch the animal impeded by a highway divider, and was hit from behind, prompting a chain reaction just after 7am, per the Australian. Tugwell, who'd helped rescue koalas before, grabbed a jacket. "We jumped it, bundled it up," then put the animal in the back of Tugwell’s SUV.

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She then drove to a nearby gas station, where she waited for a representative of the Adelaide Koala Rescue. But "I had to jump out of the car at that stage when he decided to take over," she tells the Guardian. The koala had climbed out of the trunk and into the SUV's cabin, scratching up the leather seats as it went, per CTV News. It then jumped into the driver's seat, where it was seen gripping the wheel with both hands. In one photo, the koala peers out the windshield, as if to say, "Let's go for a drive," Tugwell says, per the AP. The marsupial had moved to the backseat by the time the handler arrived, sweeping the animal into a bag. "He was actually quite a calm koala, he didn't even fight about being in the bag," Tugwell says. The uninjured koala was released roughly a half-mile from the freeway, where he was seen chilling in a eucalyptus tree. (Read more koala stories.)

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