Scottish reporter tricked into donning protective gear to hold koala bear in on-air prank

Video of a Scottish journalist has gone viral after an on-air prank left her red-faced.

ITV reporter Debi Edward was covering Australia's bushfire crisis when her freelance camera operator asked if she wanted to hold a dangerous "drop bear". 

She agreed and donned heavy protective gear - including eye protection and gloves - only to be passed a cute, albeit large, koala.

"Drop bears are a close cousin of the koala but they're actually really vicious," freelancer Sean Mulcahy told Edward.

He told the reporter the animal had longer claws than a normal koala, as well as venomous fangs.  

"The third most common injury we see in tourists in Australia is actually from drop bear attacks," he told her.

Edward boldly takes the "drop bear" anyway and cradles it gingerly.

"I'm trying not to be worried because I've been told he can sense if I'm worried," she tells the camera.

After a few moments the camera crew around her begin to act agitated, as if the koala is about to bite her. Edward becomes increasingly frightened and pleads with the crew to take the animal away from her. 

Once the koala is removed from her person, Mulcahy and the crew come clean.

"You were kidding me!" exclaims Edward to raucous laughter.

"F***ing Aussies!" 

Mulcahy says he's glad the moment is going viral.

"It's just been a miserable couple of weeks and then we got this laugh," he told ABC News.

"I'm glad I shared it because so many people have got joy out of it."

Mulcahy said he hopes the video will bring awareness to the plight of koalas amid the horrific bushfires causing devastation across Australia. 

"I still can't get my head around that 40,000 of them have died," he told ABC.

"I've been driving around and I've seen 10 dead koalas today, they're just dead at the bottom of trees."