WILDLIFE carer Sam Longman has begged for the return of three koala joeys stolen from her Ormiston home on Thursday night.
“Their lives are in danger,” she said.
RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty warned that those responsible could face animal cruelty charges.
“There is no way that whoever took the joeys doesn’t realise the danger the animals are now in,” he said.
“There has been blanket publicity about their need for medication and supplementary feeding. These animals will die if they’re not returned. Whoever took them must realise that.”
Mr Beatty said the thieves could face charges of animal cruelty, which carried a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a $220,000 fine.
Struggling to hold back tears, Ms Longman, a veterinary nurse, said she had arrived home from working the night shift at the RSPCA to find her side gate open.
Initially she thought one koala out of the 11 in enclosures on her property was missing.
“I searched neighbour’s yards and looked in nearby trees. Then I looked around the leaf buckets in the cage and realised there were three missing,” she said.
“There is no way they could escape out of that enclosure.”
She said koalas did not adjust easily to being with strangers.
“They’d be terrified. They would be so stressed.”
Ms Longman said she was in disbelief about the theft.
“I feel like I am in a nightmare.”
The carer said she tried to minimise the contact she had with the koalas she looked after.
“I would go into the enclosure to feed them, clean and give them fresh leaf.”
She said the three stolen koalas may have gone forward expecting to be fed when the thieves went into the cage.
A wildlife carer for about 14 years, Ms Longman looked after possums, kangaroos and wallabies, before specialising in koalas.
She warned that the koala joeys could inflict harm on someone holding them.
“I have been handling them for years and I was swiped across the face the other day by one of those that was taken,” she said.
The koala joeys can be handed in to any veterinary surgery, the RSPCA or a police station.
Anyone who has information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.