SYDNEY - A lucky koala has been nicknamed “Bear Grylls” after sustaining just a few scratches in a high-speed collision with a car at night in southern Australia, the driver and wildlife rescuers said Thursday. The male marsupial became wedged between the car’s bumper and front grilles after it was hit crossing the South Eastern Freeway about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south-east of Adelaide on Tuesday night, said driver Loren Davis. In the darkness with no street lights, a car travelling behind her and another alongside at the speed limit of 100kmh (62mph), Davis saw the native animal in her headlights and hit the brakes but could not avoid hitting it.

“I had no choice but to hit the koala without causing three cars to be in an accident,” Davis told AFP. Shaken and upset, the real estate agent said she pulled over but was unable to see the koala and drove back home in 10 minutes.

“Once I got into the garage at home, I turned on the lights and saw... the koala,” she said.

“I was really upset. First I thought it was dead... and (my fiancé) ran out and said ‘he’s alive, he’s alive’ because he was moving his head and his arm.”

The koala - which she later called “Bear Grylls” after the British adventurer and television host - was hanging out of the car front.

Anne Bigham, a wildlife volunteer and koala hotline operator for Fauna Rescue of South Australia, said her husband drove to Davis’s home to take the animal to an emergency veterinarian, where it was found to be in “really good condition... other than a couple of little grazes”.

“Bear Grylls”, which Bigham said weighed about 11 kilogrammes (24 pounds) and was around four years old, was recovering well and living in her home with seven other rescued koalas, enjoying a diet of fresh eucalyptus leaves.

Grylls will be released back into the wild near where he was hit on Friday. Bigham said she receives at least one call a day on average about incidents involving koalas and vehicles within the state, with the risk of accidents increasing during the current breeding season.

Koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory, are listed by the national government as vulnerable.