A Koala Catches a Train

A marsupial trapped on a freight train far from home is another indicator of the threats the Australian species faces.
(Photo: Fauna Rescue)
Oct 20, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Thanks to some considerate freight train workers, a hitchhiking koala has been saved.

According to reports, the koala apparently hopped on board a freight train on Oct. 15 as it traveled through Adelaide Hills in South Australia and clung to the carriage for more than three hours before arriving at the Penfield terminal in Adelaide.

Workers at the station brought the koala down from the train and placed it safely in a box until a wildlife rescue team arrived.

“He was just so frightened and scared but he's in very good condition,” Margie Maas of Fauna Rescue told The Advertiser.

Maas and her daughter, Sarah Randall, also a koala rescuer, are taking care of the animal at their home. Once the animal recuperates, the team will ear-tag it and release it back to its home.

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That train-riding koala is just the latest marsupial to be trying its hand at new forms of transportation. Another koala was spotted by a student waiting at a bus stop on the campus of Flinders University in the Adelaide suburb of Bedford Park.

Just last month, a koala survived being hit by a car going 60 miles an hour and ended up wedged in its grille. The koala, nicknamed “Bear Grilles,” received only minor scratches and was released back to the wild later that week.

While the incidents might seem amusing, the plight of the koala in much of Australia is not. The animal conserves as much energy as possible, sleeping upwards of 20 hours a day, waking at night only to eat or move to a new eucalyptus tree, its sole source of food.

On top of drought and more frequent wildfires and heat waves, habitat fragmentation owing to human development continues to endanger the animal. Roads, coal mines, and logging are destroying tens of thousands of acres of eucalyptus groves, leaving the animals searching for new homes, by foot or by train.