- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 14 January 2020, 11:43AM
In times of tragedy, laughter can be the best medicine ... and that's exactly the mentality these Australian locals took following the devastating wildfires on Kangaroo Island.
Army reservist veterinarian Garnett Hall and Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park owner Sam Mitchell teamed up to prank a Scottish reporter who was covering the ongoing bushfire situation on the island - and the devilish duo were perfect partners in crime.
When asking ITV News Asia correspondent Debi Edward if she wanted to hold an elusive Australian "drop bear", she jumped at the chance — falling for the joke "hook, line and sinker".
Never heard of a drop bear? That's because they don't exist.
But it's a notorious stitch-up in Australia, where locals warn tourists to avoid these koala lookalikes who drop from the trees and attack you with their vicious fangs and sharp claws.
Dressed in "protective drop bear clothing" - which was a motocross outfit worn backwards, along with welding gloves, boots and goggles - a video of Debi trying to remain calm while holding the drop bear has since gone viral with the aim of raising money for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, which has been nursing injured koalas after bushfires on the island has killed over 80 per cent of the mammals.
She can be heard telling the camera: "I'm a bit worried about why I need this much protection.
"I've been told this is quite a dangerous animal. It's been known to attack people. It's called a drop bear because they drop out of the tree and attack people.
"Everybody looks very worried about this. I'm trying not to be worried because I've been told it can sense when I'm worried."
Bushfires on Kangaroo Island have killed two people, burned thousands of acres of land to a crisp and wiped out many more animals.
Debi's video producer Sean Mulcahy spoke of devastation to the island, calling it "horrific."
"I still can't get my head around that 40,000 of them have died, I've been driving around and I've seen 10 dead koalas today, they're just dead at the bottom of trees," he said.
"If you see one in the wild in New South Wales, you're delighted. I don't think I've ever seen one in the wild to be honest, so to see so many dead is awful."
He said amid the devastation, it was important to take a break from the heartache.
"For us, it was a case of, it's just been a miserable couple of weeks, and then we got this laugh — I'm glad I shared it because so many people have got joy out of it," he said.
"I've just been with a family who lost their home on Kangaroo Island, I sat down with them and they all watched the video and were just crying with laughter.
"For that brief period, it was happiness for them."