A HAPLESS koala hit the road for a 16km ride through the Adelaide Hills last weekend, hiding in the wheel arch of a 4WD before the shocked driver was alerted by the furry marsupial's crying.
It is thought the koala nestled in behind a wheel of the car sometime on Saturday before she was discovered later that night.
On his way to a family member's house, the driver pulled over after being flagged down by other motorists thinking something was wrong with his car.
But unable to find anything unusual the man continued on.
Then later, after arriving at his destination, the driver heard crying coming from under the vehicle.
Fauna Rescue SA's Jane Brister said the man called the koala hotline straight away.
"It wasn't until he was getting out of his car that he realised," Ms Brister said.
"She was stuck in there, I tried to get her out but she was really wedged in there tight and hanging on for dear life.
"We had to get the wheel removed but the owner wasn't able to locate the jack or the key to unlock the wheel nut so we had to get assistances from the MFS.
"Once we got the wheel off she was very frightened.
"She had superficial injuries that we could see, she was covered in grease and muck from under the car."
Named Kelli, after one of her MFS rescuers, the frightened koala was rushed to the vet.
But sadly that's when it became clear Kelli was missing a joey.
"She had been feeding recently and when they have a bigger back riding joey they leave little knots, they knot up all the fur on their mum's back from holding on and she had that on her back," Ms Brister said.
"I was out searching for the joey for two days but I wasn't able to find it. But apart from that she was okay, she was just in shock."
After a few days rest Kelli began to show signs she was feeling better and Ms Brister released her back into the wild Friday.
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