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It seemed like just another day for Bruce Atkinson until a furry friend paid him an unusual visit. While at first he thought that the cute Koala had just lost her way and simply wandered onto his porch, one closer look made him realize that something was very wrong.

What he did next made him the new hero, showered with thank you notes and praises from all over the world.

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Bruce Atkinson is a simple 63-year-old man, who lives in Apollo Bay- a small coastal town in the state of Victoria, Australia, and works as a technology consultant in the nuclear industry. Since Australia is well known for its native marsupials, it was not really a surprise for Bruce to see a Koala sitting on his porch. But this particular Koala had an unusual look.

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When interviewed about the incident, Bruce told the reporter, “I was just wandering out to have some breakfast early in the morning and I saw a koala on the porch. It wandered up, which is not unusual. But this one looked a bit distraught. It was just sitting there all glum.”

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Bruce was eager to find out what was troubling this poor marsupial and wanted to offer his help with whatever it was that making him miserable. So, he decided to move a bit closer to the poor Koala and try to ascertain the nature of its problem. At first, he thought, it could have been wounded but could not see any such thing.

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Bruce could not decipher what was wrong with the poor creature but on looking more closely, he could see the reason for this Koala’s distress clearly. He told the reporters that he went out to take a picture of the Koala when he noticed that it was all covered with tiny thorns.

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Bruce could sense that the poor animal needed someone’s help but he wasn’t sure as to how to offer his help. After all, it was a wild animal and could counter-attack him. But as is evident all over the Internet, Bruce took the chance and decided to help anyway.


He knew that he needed to win this creature’s trust first in order for him to be able to help it. So, he did what anyone would do in such situation. He went in and brought a bowl of water. But little did he know how the Koala would react to his innocent offering.

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While explaining the incident, Bruce told the reporters that, “I grabbed a bowl of water and put it near it and it immediately got swatted out of my hand.” However, he found out later that koalas do not drink water like other animals but derive it by sucking on gum leaves. This also explained the Koala’s rude reaction to his offering.

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Now Bruce knew that the Koala was distress due to the burrs and tried to see the situation from its point of view. Because who would care for water if their body is all covered in tiny little prickles?! So, he decided to skip the interaction part and tackle the situation upfront. Now the question was would this wild animal let a strange human touch him?

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Bruce had to think of the best approach to remove those thorns from the Koala’s fur while also protecting himself in case it got defensive again. So, he pulled out a pair of motorcycle gloves from his garage and picked up a hairbrush to remove the thorns. And now it was time to see if he would be able to help or if he was in for another tantrum.


Since the Koala was visibly cranky, Bruce decided to let it sniff the hairbrush first. Then he gently touched the Koala with the hairbrush just to see how it would react to being touched. Even though Bruce was hoping to let it help him, the Koala’s reaction this time around surprised him.


He said, “I just gently poked the brush at some of the burrs. Within seconds it decided that this is alright, I’ll have more of this,” while reporting the incident to the ABC news reporters. He could not believe how a wild creature could go from being so cranky to completely submissive in a matter of a few minutes.


Bruce was astonished by this incident and decided to capture it on camera. He wanted to share his experience with the world. So, he got his camera and recorded the encounter as he groomed this wild creature. He shared the video on the “Otway Community News Facebook group”. He was taken aback by the number of responses.


The video has Bruce gently reassuring the Koala as he gently brushes out the prickles, and received thousands of views in a very small window of time. The comment section also got filled with comments like, “He must have been so uncomfortable. What a trusting koala, I think you have a friend for life.” And “Thank you, Bruce. I bet now she will impress all of her male mates with her new hairdo.”

Image: Scribol.com

However, a wildlife officer suggested that getting away from the males actually could have been the reason the poor Koala got the burrs in the first place because they get a bit frisky at this time of year. While it was only a guess, Bruce feels good that the Koala enjoyed the grooming session and that he could help and make it feel more comfortable.