Australian police investigate death of koala screwed to post

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The death of a koala found screwed to a post in Australia has sparked an outcry from animal rights groups and prompted a police investigation.

The koala may have been alive when it was "cruelly attached" to the post of a wooden shelter using building screws, though it was dead when found on Wednesday, said Koala Rescue Queensland in a Facebook post accompanying a picture of the animal.

It shows the small koala, limbs wrapped around one of the shelter's wooden supports, appearing to clutch a bunch of gum leaves. The caption says "all is not as it seems". It gives the location as a lookout at Brooloo Park, 140 km (85 miles) north of the city of Brisbane in Queensland state.

"Police are currently investigating the matter," Senior Sergeant Pierre Senekal, at nearby Kenilworth, told Reuters on Thursday. He said the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) will organize an autopsy of the animal to determine cause of death.

Animal cruelty can attract a maximum penalty of seven years jail or fines of up to A$252,300 ($200,000) in Queensland.

"This is very disturbing," Queensland RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty told Reuters.

"Whether or not the koala was dead, how somebody would think this was in some way humorous, when little kids go to that lookout area, is beyond me," he said.

Koalas are one of Australia's major tourist attractions and are often inaccurately described as bears, but are infact marsupials, a mammal whose young are suckled in a pouch.

The koala was listed as a "vulnerable" species under an Australian conservation law in 2012. There are fewer than 100,000 of the animals left in the wild, perhaps even as few as 43,000, according to Australian Koala Foundation estimates.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Michael Perry)

Related News

Embattled Philippine minister may win...

Mar 9, 2017

US-PHILIPPINES-MINING:Embattled Philippine minister may win reappointment if Congress defers...

Tesla's Musk offers to fix South Australia's...

Mar 10, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-POWER-TESLA:Tesla's Musk offers to fix South Australia's power crisis in 100 days

Tesla's Musk discusses energy proposal with South...

Mar 11, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-POWER-TESLA:Tesla's Musk discusses energy proposal with South Australian government

South Australia taps new gas plant, batteries to...

Mar 14, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-POWER-TESLA:South Australia taps new gas plant, batteries to fix power crisis

Philippine lawmakers postpone vote on embattled...

Mar 14, 2017

US-PHILIPPINES-MINING:Philippine lawmakers postpone vote on embattled resources minister

China e-commerce confusion catches Australian...

Mar 14, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-CHINA-RETAIL:China e-commerce confusion catches Australian retailers on the hop

Peaple also read these

Tesla's Musk offers to fix South Australia's...

Mar 10, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-POWER-TESLA:Tesla's Musk offers to fix South Australia's power crisis in 100 days

The Trump presidency on March 20 at 1:55 P.M. EDT

Mar 20, 2017

US-USA-TRUMP-HIGHLIGHTS:The Trump presidency on March 20 at 1:55 P.M. EDT

Powerful cyclone slams into Australia's tropical...

Mar 28, 2017

A powerful cyclone has slammed into Australia's tropical northeast coast, tearing down trees and...

Thousands shelter as "screaming, howling" Cyclone...

Mar 28, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-CYCLONE:Thousands shelter as "screaming, howling" Cyclone Debbie hits north Australia

Big miners have trouble joining technology...

Apr 6, 2017

US-MINING-AUTOMATION:Big miners have trouble joining technology revolution

Sign up now!