An Adelaide service station attendant was stunned when a koala walked behind the counter and tried to climb up his leg.
“I don’t know how to get him off,” a nervous red-haired Ampol employee can be heard saying, as a man behind the camera attempts to coax the animal while clicking his fingers.
Moments earlier, CCTV captured the moment the 5.7kg female walked through the Woodside store’s front doors on the Saturday, startling customers. One man is seen backing away from the marsupial, while another films with his phone from a safe distance nearby.
Employees continue to serve customers with koala behind counter
Video supplied to Yahoo News Australia by service station attendant James Paparella shows the disorientated koala cruising past shelves stacked with bottles of Coca-Cola, bags of CC’s, and packets of Allen’s lollies before finding her way into a cleaning room.
“Who’s the new Ampol employee?,” someone jokes.
James told Yahoo News Australia it had been an "average day" until a koala decided to wander into the store.
Not wanting the animal to wander onto the road, James and the service team kept her in the store for about 40 minutes, while they waited for help to arrive. "We kept serving customers, but just with a koala between our legs," he said.
"We had it behind the counter and had a water bowl out," he continued. "She jumped on our legs occasionally, she must have thought we were trees. We just made sure she didn't tear things up."
Koala displacement on increase across Adelaide Hills
Adelaide-based Koala Rescue Inc confirmed it later attended the service station and the koala was found to be healthy.
Volunteer wildlife rescuer Jemma Manfre told Yahoo News Australia the koala was "pretty chill" and sitting in a service area behind the counter. "She was just sitting on the floor and probably quite a young koala," she said.
When she released the koala at a forest around 500 metres away, Jemma said the animal sprinted up the tree and didn't look back until she was up the top.
Merridy Montarello is a colleague of Jemma's and an experienced koala volunteer, and she believes koala rescues are on the increase.
"We're moving into their habitat and their corridors and they're being forced into suburbia," she said. "People are saying they haven't seen koalas before, but they've always been there. A lot of them are being hit by cars and there are a lot of dog attacks. It's really sad."
While koalas in parts of South Australia and Victoria are considered abundant, they are listed as endangered in NSW, ACT and Queensland. Across most of the country, they are continuing to be displaced by development and industry.
If you see a displaced koala in Adelaide you can contact Koala Rescue Inc on 0474737 283 or 1300 KOALAZ on 1300 562 529.
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