Pumpkin the Orphaned Koala Released!

Animals Donate Rescue Wildlife Volunteering Posted Jan 11, 2021
Last year we cared for almost 27,000 native animals at our RSPCA Wildlife Hospital. Pumpkin the koala was just one of them.

Koalas like Pumpkin can stay in RSPCA care for up to a month on average while they recover from dog attacks, roadside accidents, and habitat loss. Pumpkin's journey with us however was much longer!

In October 2019, James McKay and his young family stopped to help a koala that had been hit by a car while driving through Crows Nest. James called the RSPCA Animal Emergency Hotline, 1300 ANIMAL, for assistance.

Brought into our Wildlife Hospital at Wacol, this mother koala, now known as Lilly, also had a joey on board! Tucked up safely inside her pouch was little Pumpkin.

Lilly the koala with Pumpkin the joey in her pouch

Both koalas underwent veterinary checks.

Poor Lilly had suffered facial injuries and had a broken arm. She required urgent surgery. Now missing one eye but with her limb pinned back into place, Lilly had a long road to recovery ahead.

Pumpkin and Lilly the koalas at RSPCA Queensland Wildlife Hospital

Being so young, little Pumpkin depended on his mum and our veterinary team did everything they could to keep them together throughout their stay.

A few months passed under watchful veterinary care and Lilly and Pumpkin were able to progress to an outdoor koala kindy area to continue their rehabilitation.

koala kindy for Pumpkin and Lilly RSPCA Queensland Wildlife

Just as the future was looking bright for both koalas, we were devastated to learn that a routine check-up for Lilly revealed that she had developed Leukaemia. Sadly, there was just nothing more our team could do to save Lilly.

Pumpkin now had to face yet another challenge: learning to survive as an orphan. Koala joeys depend on their mothers for a year before they can branch off and make an independent life for themselves. So, Pumpkin needed round the clock care and guidance to help him learn the ropes, but he was in good hands with wildlife carer Trudi.

We’re pleased to say that after several months of care, Pumpkin was big and strong enough to be able to make it on his own.

Veterinary check for Koala Pumpkin

After his final veterinary check, Pumpkin was about to start his journey from Wacol back to Crows Nest, Toowoomba. On his way out of the Wildlife Hospital, two more koalas had just arrived at the RSPCA from Toowoomba.

Pumpkin the koala leaving RSPCA Queensland Wildlife Hospital

Our work is never done. As one guest leaves, other animals need our care once more. You can help ensure we can continue to be there for wildlife when they need us most. Call 1300 ANIMAL if you see a sick or injured animal, consider making a donation or volunteering your time to help.

Sandie who works with a koala rescue group in the Toowoomba region, greeted our team when Pumpkin arrived back at Crows Nest for release. She was genuine in her gratitude for RSPCA Queensland, but it’s clear that Sandie and many others are a huge part of the future of our wildlife. It’s great that we can work together.

A land caretaker took the team to a suitable release location – near where Lilly was first found, but with plenty of suitable habitat for Pumpkin.

James and his family who first came to Lilly’s rescue, also met the team at the release site. Adorned in koala shirts, they were rearing to get out into the bush with a clear dream to be wildlife heroes.

James and his family rescued Lilly and Pumpkin the koalas from the roadside

Everyone was elated to be able to send Pumpkin off into the wild.

Sandie opened the crate lid and Pumpkin was off with gusto! Climbing with purpose straight to the top of the tree. 

Pumpkin the Koala released back into Crows Nest Toowoomba

There Pumpkin sat, looking happily out across the forest and into the distance.

Pumpkin the Koala back in the wild on a gumtree

Pumpkin’s journey began with us in 2019. Over a year later, he was finally able to start his life in the wild and was released in November 2020. With your help, we can ensure that our precious Aussie icons continue to have a future. A special thank you to James and his family for coming to Lilly's aid when she needed it most. Remember, if you find an injured or sick animal, call us for assistance 24/7 on 1300 264 625.

Emma Lagoon
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