A 13-year-old koala, Banjo, was stolen from an enclosure in the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney, Australia, on Monday night. Zoo officials said Banjo’s abduction was the “first ever koala heist” in Australia, as the New York Daily News puts it. On Wednesday afternoon, someone called the park and said that Banjo was in the parking lot. Zoo personnel rushed out and found Banjo in a plastic waste container with a milk crate over him.
Click here for a video of Banjo being reunited with his keepers.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Banjo, while shaken and slightly dehydrated, is doing all right.
Officials were especially concerned about Banjo as he had only recently come to the Reptile Park from a zoo on the Gold Coast, to increase the genetic diversity of the park’s breeding program. Koalas “stress easily” and can “take a long time to adjust to new surroundings,” says the Daily Telegraph. As Banjo — who is quite old in koala years; koalas live about ten years in the wild, about 15 in captivity — had lost weight during the move and was being fed a supplementary paste besides his usual diet of eucalyptus leaves.
General manager Mary Rayner said that Banjo was being kept in his own enclosure “because we were concerned about him and we wanted him to get used to his new home before we introduced him to any females.” She and other zoo officials are unsure as to why anyone would have wanted to steal Banjo.
Here’s hoping he has a speedy recovery and settles nicely into his life at the park.
Photo from drbakker via flickr