IT MIGHT sound like the start of a joke but a koala – and then a police officer – did walk into a Cleveland coffee shop on Wednesday morning, much to the astonishment of staff and customers.
It was no average day for three baristas at One Stop Cafe when the koala wandered in, and even took a perch on a chair.
The koala was followed by Cleveland police officer Constable Liv Smith, who was unaware of the cafe’s unusual visitor but able to keep him safe until wildlife officers arrived.
Staff member Teagan Thompson said the koala snuck in when her colleague Tayla Branch popped out to fetch the newspaper and bread for the day ahead.
“We saw something run in,” she said. “One of the girls thought it was a cat at first and asked if I saw it.
“I hadn’t so I checked around the corner where the kitchen is and saw a koala staring back at me.
“We were all shocked.”
Ms Thompson said she was baffled at how the koala had wandered to the busy strip of Middle Street.
“There’s only a car park with gravel and stones at the back of the shop and there isn’t a lot of greenery around so we have no idea where it came from,” she said.
Staff members continued with their duties at the cafe, serving customers while the koala roamed the store.
Constable Liv Smith said she had come across the koala when she walked in for a coffee.
“I … looked down to see it and thought yep, this perfectly lines up with my jobs this morning,” she said.
“I had (impact resistant) gloves so I picked it up and left the koala in the cafe’s back room.”
Constable Smith said she was familiar with wildlife, having worked out west but this was her first koala capture.
“I’ve held all types of animals like kangaroos but then again, they don’t have claws like koalas,” she said.
“I just laughed at the situation and … had to help.”
Constable Smith earned herself free coffee for keeping the male koala safe away from the busy road until wildlife rescuers came to collect him.
The bizarre encounter comes as koala breeding season begins, with male koalas on the move and looking for love between July and December.
MORNING JOB: One Stop Cafe staff member Teagan Thompson, Cleveland police officer Constable Liv Smith and staff member Tayla Branch began their morning with a koala encounter. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia
With koalas migrating into new and unfamiliar territories in search for prospective mates, Redland City mayor Karen Williams has urged people to be mindful of the increased activity to help make sure there is no love lost.
“In addition to breeding season, it is also the time of year when last year’s juvenile koalas leave their mothers to forge their own path and find their own homes,” she said.
“This means there is also greater movement among our younger and more inexperienced koala populations, so we all need to take extra care to keep them safe by adhering to speed limits on the roads, making sure our yards are koala friendly and keeping pets inside at night.”
“Don’t be surprised if you spot koalas in unexpected places or on your own properties as they explore new ground between July and December, and if you do make any koala sightings please notify council.”