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Sick, injured, orphaned or dead koalas

A wet and dirty bottom (cystitis).

A wet and dirty bottom (cystitis).

Infected or inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis).

Infected or inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis).

Sitting at the base of a tree for an extended period of time.

Sitting at the base of a tree for an extended period of time.

What you should do:

Safety warning: do not touch a wild koala

Step 1: call a koala ambulance
For the Brisbane south, Redlands and Logan areas:
  • Daisy Hill Koala Ambulance operates every day between 8.00 am and 4.30 pm. Phone: (07) 3299 1032 or 0412 429 898.
All other areas in Queensland:
  • RSPCA: 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).
  • Various wildlife volunteer groups assist in koala rescues. Please contact your local council for contact details.
Step 2: care for the sick or injured koala before the ambulance arrives
If you have dogs:
  • Restrain your dog and keep it away from the koala.
  • If your neighbours have dogs, let them know that a koala is in the area and get them to restrain their dogs as well.
When a koala is on the ground:
  • If it is safe to do so, approach the koala from behind and place a washing basket (or similar item with ventilation) over the koala.
  • Put something heavy on top of the basket to stop the koala moving away and climbing a tree.
  • Ensure the koala is left in a quiet and stress free environment.
When a koala is stuck in a fence:
  • Do not attempt to assist the koala
  • Provide some shade for the koala if it is in the sun.

The koala ambulance

EHP koala ambulance

EHP koala ambulance

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) wildlife officers based at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre run a koala ambulance service all year round. The ambulance officers respond to reports of sick, injured, orphaned and dead koalas.

Rescued and dead koalas are taken to the EHP Moggill Koala Hospital. Here, sick, injured and orphaned koalas receive veterinary assessment and treatment. If a koala needs to be euthanased, a necropsy (post-mortem examination) will be conducted to determine the cause/extent of its injuries or illness and a tissue sample is collected for genetic analysis. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital at Currumbin and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital at Beerwah also provide expert veterinary treatment for koalas.

Koalas are most active during the breeding season from August until October. The Daisy Hill Koala Ambulance receives an influx of phone calls during this period. Only koalas that require veterinary treatment are captured—healthy koalas are left alone to avoid unnecessary stress.

Community education role of the koala ambulance

Koala Ambulance staff undertake a community education role by taking the time to talk to people about koala conservation and habitat protection. This encourages community awareness about koalas and gives people a better understanding of this unique animal and the threats they face. Particularly for those who live in urban areas where koalas are present.

Frequently asked questions

What do I do if there is a koala in my backyard?

Step 1: Lock up your dog

If you have a dog, restrain it and keep it well away from the koala. A koala faced with a barking dog can suffer stress, which can lead to sickness and the stress-related disease Chlamydia. If your neighbours have dogs, please get them to restrain their dog as well.

If you live in a koala habitat area, restrain, tie-up or 'den' your dog at night time. Denning your dog means placing your dog in a secure area or room within your house, laundry, garage or enclosed veranda, so it is out of reach of nocturnal, native wildlife. Denning also helps dogs that are prone to excessive barking and can prevent destructive behaviour by limiting their interactions with native wildlife and chewable items.

Contact RSPCA Queensland (07 3426 9999) for more information about denning your dog.

Step 2: Observe but keep your distance to determine whether it is need of assistance.

Observe the koala to see if it has any signs or symptoms of sickness or injury. Try to view the koala from a distance so your presence does not cause any unnecessary alarm or stress.

Step 3: Call for help (if the koala requires assistance). 

Call a koala emergency care group in your local area to report the koala’s condition and location.

Can the koala be moved?

Only sick or injured koalas will be moved as the process of relocation is stressful and can cause the koala to become sick.

Koalas have established home ranges and the relocation of a koala to a new area can sometimes do more harm than good. Studies show koalas that have been relocated to nearby habitat, often attempt to make their way back to their home range. With numerous roads and backyards to cross, they are faced with many unfamiliar threats.

Koalas are generally aware of potential threats in their home range, making it a safer option to leave a healthy koala in familiar surroundings.

If you see a koala, healthy or sick, please phone the Daisy Hill Koala Ambulance on (07) 3299 1032 so it can be recorded.

What if a bird is swooping a koala in my backyard?

On occasion, birds will swoop koalas. This is a natural interaction that usually occurs during the breeding season when birds are nesting. Eventually, the situation will be resolved without human intervention by either the birds moving on when they realise the koala will not move, or the koala moves to another tree. If there are visible injuries, please call a koala ambulance or a koala care group.

Koala crossing the road during the daytime.

Koala crossing the road during the daytime.

When are koalas most active?

Koalas are mainly nocturnal (active at night). However, they will move around during the day, especially during the breeding season (August to October).

Koala in a palm tree.

Koala in a palm tree.

Do koalas only climb eucalypt trees?

Koalas are known to climb many tree types other than eucalypt species. Palm, banana and leopard trees are a few tree species koalas will climb to seek shade or rest in when they are travelling to another food tree or area.

Last updated
31 March 2017