Something about us

We are a non-profit association based in South East Queensland.
We provide rescue, trauma care, hand rearing and rehabilitation of koalas, wombats and other Australian wildlife.

One of our specialties is caring for koalas.
Vehicle hits, dog attacks, disease and starvation are all killers of this amazing animal.

All of these can be linked back to one overriding cause: Habitat Loss.
Whether selective clearing or wholesale residential development, the impact can be just as devastating to this extremely specialised little marsupial.

For Koala and Wombat rescues on the Darling Downs, call 0427 969860. For other animals and birds, please call 1300 ANIMAL.

Latest blog posts

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas

Please help our koalas “Return to the Wild” by donating with Paypal!

Published: December 21, 2017

Final work on our enclosures!

Wire mesh to enclose the undercover outdoor koala enclosure has been the hard work of Brad and Mandy Turner who have given their weekends to us – literally ‘blood sweat and (almost) tears’, free to make this happen.
During the excessive heatwave they toiled and worked to make this beautiful enclosure come to fruition.
Thanks to Brad and Mandy for their precious time and effort. Finally our dreams are coming true!
Brad hard at work!

Girl power! Thanks Mandy

Russell and Luke Hansen, hard at work on the outdoor enclosure.

This is the final stage of the koala rehabilitation before release. They are given time in this outdoor environment where they can build up strength, climbing skill, and get used to being exposed to all weather conditions. They are fed by us and closely monitored during this time to ensure they have no lingering issues.

This work is due to the wonderful support of the Nexus Together Sponsorship Program, and we are so very grateful to them for this help!

Thanks also to Brendon Gray for the supply of recycled roofing sheets for this enclosure free of charge.

Without these wonderful people this would not be possible, and we are immeasurably grateful for their time, energy, and support!


Published: November 1, 2017

Magnet and Grandma

Published: June 18, 2017

Our latest rescue – Kiwi

Found in a farmers paddock, blinded due to severe conjunctivitis, ‘Kiwi’ was rescued and is now undergoing treatment at a specialist wildlife hospital.

Kiwi - rescue
Photo by Sylvia
Very sore eyes, now getting treatment
Photo by Clare Gover

Published: May 19, 2017

Water for Wildlife!

DSC00096 (Small)

Australian animals may have evolved for the Australian climate, but with habitat degradation, fences and the dangers of cars and dogs, it is harder for them to access natural water.
Save a life and put out #WaterforWildlife !

Published: February 11, 2017

Looking back at 2016

We are very grateful to the Queensland Government for the grant to help establish a plantation for eucalyptus trees to feed the koalas that come into care, as well as equipment for the koala care center.
2016 was a busy year with increased koala rescues, well above average. Spring and summer are the highest on record of injured and diseased koalas since we started.
With help from volunteers including land care and the government grant we have managed to clear, furrow and plant eucalyptus trees.
The challenges of drought having an effect on the growth of these seedlings having sustained some losses but hope to replant in the New Year to fill in the gaps.
The addition of rainwater tanks and plumbing the long term upkeep of these trees is now realised. All we need now is rain to fill these tanks and allow us to water the very precious new trees!

Tree Planting1

Published: January 11, 2017

New – July 2016

Here at Return to the Wild our speciality is, of course, koalas. Our skills and experience however encompass all species, and this has proven essential recently.

The unusual weather is playing havoc with our wildlife. Extreme drought, followed by severe storms, heat waves, and some very cold snaps. It is supposed to be winter but this winter has been the most unusual yet with July seeing some very warm days. It may seem nice to be able to sit in the sun on what feels like a warm spring day, but it is triggering unusual behaviour in the wildlife. Birds are nesting in winter, and even though we have had some showers the food source for the koalas has been hard to find.

Sadly, no koalas saved this month

The koalas rescued this month have been mostly diseased and sick, with conjunctivitis (eye infections) and cystitis (dirty tail). The tough conditions being stressors which weaken the animals and bring about the diseases.
Unfortunately all of the koalas we rescued and sent to specialist wildlife hospitals in Brisbane have had to be euthanized due to the severity of their condition.
When a koala is found on the ground at the base of a tree, it is usually too weak to climb and organ failure is starting due to the advanced stage of the disease.
Although we were not able to save these animals it would be cruel to leave them to suffer, and although a sad part of our job it is just as valuable and important as the more ‘glamorous’ hand rearing of joeys.

Happily, successful recuperation of other important wildlife!

Due in part to the weather conditions, and with experienced carers in short supply, we have found ourselves needing to take on care and hand rearing of other species.
Normally we act as a clearing station and other carers in our network will take over many other species. This not only benefits the animal in consistency of care, but also means a carer specialising in possums (for example) will be able to ‘buddy-up’ their charges with another animal of the same species.
This is an underestimated necessity of hand-rearing, even for animals which may be solitary in adulthood!

Due to the volume of other wildlife brought in, our little flock of charges has expanded.

This squirrel glider was one of 3 that were found caught on barbed wire fences. Their fur and usually the gliding membrane gets caught on the barb, and as they try to escape they get twisted and further entrapped. This female was taken to a vet who very kindly anesthetised the animal and cleaned and dressed the wound. This glider is one of the lucky ones who was able to be treated and released.

Before:  Heartbreaking for us, but obviously a much more traumatic experience for this precious girl.

Before: Heartbreaking for us, but obviously a much more traumatic experience for this precious girl.

 (Picture of glider receiving anaesthetic, you can see the torn bleeding membrane just outside of the black mask).  Thanks to the vet and staff for their help.

(Picture of glider receiving anaesthetic, you can see the torn bleeding membrane just outside of the black mask). Thanks to the vet and staff for their help.

After:  Having been anesthetised and detached from the barbed wire, groggy but, ready to recuperate prior to release.

After: Having been anesthetised and detached from the barbed wire, groggy but ready to recuperate prior to release.

Support us in returning wildlife like this to the wild

The incredible support of our sponsors keeps us going. Please help us help our wildlife by making a donation here.

Published: August 20, 2016

News – June 2016

We are a bit late with our news from June but please find following the stories of two koalas that came into our care, highlighting the ups and downs of caring for the koalas of the Darling Downs.

A Successful Rescue Story in the News

We featured in The Toowoomba Toowoomba’s Chronicle newspaper on 27 June in an article reporting on a recent successful koala rescue and release, our input was the rescue of the koala whose treatment and care was undertaken by Endeavour Veterinary Ecology team.

Billie during treatment

Billie during treatment at Endeavour Veterinary Ecology

Here is a link to the article and following is a copy of the text by Toowoomba Chronicle:

‘’A partially blind koala found next to the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing corridor has been nursed back to health and released.

He was spotted by Transport and Main Roads staff in a Queensland blue gum near the disused pilot tunnel originally intended for the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.

The koala was given then name Pilot Billie and he has become something of a mascot for the Toowoomba Main Roads team.

Veterinarian Jon Hanger said Billie was nearly blinded by infections in both eyes and suffered from an infection of the bladder.

Dr Hanger worked with Cabarlah wildlife carer Clare Gover and Endeavour Veterinary Ecology staff to nurse Billie back to a healthy weight and restore his eyesight.

Ms Gover said Billie’s condition was so bad he would have only been able to find food by smell and feeling his way around.

Billie jumped for joy when the team released him today.

TMR regional director Kym Murphy said Endeavour Veterinary Ecology would work with
contractor Nexus and the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing team to spot, tag and release
koalas as part of a program funded by Transport and Main Roads.

“Ecologists use cutting edge technology including thermal imaging scopes to ǡnd koalas in
thick vegetation,” she said.

“We will closely monitor the local koala populations during works at Toowoomba Second
Range Crossing.

“If sick or injured koalas are found it’s good to know people can call on groups such as Return
to the Wild, who do a great job caring for these iconic animals in our area.”’’

A Sad Story and a Call for Help

Story and photos by Nicki Laws

Ashley and Katie from Darling Downs Vets and ‘Ben’ the male koala.

Ashley and Katie from Darling Downs Vets and ‘Ben’ the male koala.

A large male koala was picked up injured at the side of a country road, between Southbrook and Biddeston on the Darling Downs, by a passing Veterinarian . He took it into the Oakey Clinic of Darling Downs Vets, the practice where he works as an Associate Veterinarian.

Pain relief and antibiotics were given by vet Ashley and vet nurse Katie before x-rays were taken of the injured koalas’ skull. A serious jaw fracture was noticed, and Return to the Wild was contacted for help.

X-ray of the mandible fracture

X-ray of the mandible fracture

We did the 80 km round trip to collect ‘Ben’, as he had been named, then he was transported 120km to the Brisbane RSPCA clinic at Wacol where further x-rays and a complete clinical examination were performed. By this stage Ben had deteriorated neurologically and the fractures were considered too serious and unlikely to be successfully repaired. The worsening status of the koala also suggested brain trauma. A decision was made to euthanize the beautiful animal on humane grounds.

This is a sad story, but an outcome that is unfortunately too common in South East Queensland, where koala habitat is under continued fragmentation pressure from development and where the threats from road traffic accidents, dog attacks and diseases are real.

The story also highlights the wonderful unpaid work that is performed to help these animals – by local vets like those at the Darling Downs Vets for koala rescue groups like Return to the Wild.

Please support wildlife carers and the RSPCA by giving donations to help their work. Ask councils to put up road signs in koala habitat areas. Plant suitable trees if you have land in koala territory. Talk to politicians in the lead up to the Federal Election and ask what their party will do to halt tree clearing, lift the status of koalas under the EPBC Act, and to set aside more land for this iconic species.

Australia cannot afford to lose more koalas.

Return to the Wild inc. has a PayPal link for any donations to help their continued rescue and rehabilitate koalas and other wildlife with their valuable work.

Published: July 10, 2016

New – May 2016

We are Losing our Wild Koalas Rapidly……

Koala in care
It is the end of autumn and the start of winter, one of the hottest on record; the bush is extremely dry, no rain, and the food source is very poor, so one can assume that the weaker diseased animals are succumbing to the final stages of their disease. This is when they are noticed on the ground, or low in a tree for several days before being reported to us.

This has been one of the worst months ever. With nine koala rescues in the area, of the five road victims only one survived. One, a healthy mother with a pouch joey were both killed on impact with a vehicle. The other four rescued koalas had to be euthanaised by a specialist vet due to severe Chlamydia disease . Here are just two stories of the diseased animals found within one small farming area.

Unwell Koala
A concerned member of the public found the koala above in her yard, and had the insight to feel ‘she was not right’ as she had been in the same tree, a wattle over a week. She was monitored overnight and was not seen to move from the same branch, or to come down and move to a suitable eucalyptus tree to eat (wattle is not a tree koalas feed from.) When she was taken to the vet it was found she was in very poor body condition. Under anaesthetic it was discovered she had “one of the largest ovarian cysts ever seen.” Furthermore, she had advanced stages of renal failure and was actually slowly dying. Unfortunately the kindest thing to do was to euthanaise her. This goes to show how easily koalas can mask their symptoms. Although she may look fine to the inexperienced eye, their thick fur disguises the underlying poor condition of the body. This koala had not eaten in days, was very weak and was slowly dying.

Another sad story

A young male koala was seen to be not moving from the one tree for over a week. When binoculars zoomed in, he was assessed as having a severe Chlamydia Cystitis (the pictures we have are too gruesome to put on line) you can just see between the branches the darkening of the rump. Although he looks bright enough in the face, again the thick fur disguises the poor body condition under this thick coat. He was found to have a body score of 2/10; his disease was also so advanced he had renal failure and had to be euthanaised by a specialist koala vet. Although this may seem extreme, this was the kindest thing for him, because he was getting weaker and weaker. When sick animals no longer have the strength to cling to branches , they are found at the base of the tree, starving and slowly dying. To leave him until he reached this stage would have been a welfare issue and very cruel.

Because of the location – near a main highway, together with the height of the tree, he was not able to be reached by normal methods. We were lucky enough in the end to get the help of a cherry picker to reach him.

Unwell KoalaMay 2016 Blog - Image 4

So as you can see, the joy and pleasure we get in working with these amazing animals is sadly tempered by the heartbreaking reality of trying to save a species on the brink of catestrophic loss. While we would rather share only the warm ‘fluffy’ stories with all of you, Dear Readers, they are a minority of our day to day work.

Critical Care Centre fencing completed

On the home front, stage one of the fencing has been completed and there is now around 1.5 acres of tree safe from the wallabies and hares.

May 2016 Blog - Image 5

Can you help? – essential support needed in covering costs of fuel

An urgent request!!! Our wonderful sponsors for vehicle and fuel of the past two years have sold their business and as such, we urgently seek a new sponsor to cover this vital cost. Please contact us if you can help.

Published: May 18, 2016

News – April 2016

March 2016 Blog - Tree Planting 1

A lot has been happening lately for Return to the Wild.

Hundreds of ‘’koala’’ trees planted by volunteers

Last month volunteers planted hundreds of eucalyptus trees in our newly prepared ground. Members of a local Landcare group and other volunteers worked hard over two weekends to plant Stage 1 plantation of trees that koalas love to eat. Although the work was hard, we all had a fun day. Thank you so much to you all. The trees are doing well despite our current dry conditions.

March 2016 Blog - Tree Planting 1

March 2016 Blog - Tree Planting 2

March 2016 Blog - Tree Planting 3

March 2016 Blog - Tree Planting 4

Development of the Critical Care Centre takes a great leap forward

Exciting progress to report this month regarding the Critical Care Centre. Through a donation by a generous sponsor, the Critical Care Centre has been professionally lined by a local builder. It looks fantastic. In addition to this donation Chris Wills, a volunteer electrician, carried out the initial wiring to the Centre before the insulation and lining began. So, once the flooring is completed, the next step is to work toward solar power for the property, and hence connection to power points, light fittings, and humidifiers. A huge thank you to Chris for his work. Many thanks go to Hayman’s Electrical for the donation of wiring.

Countless thanks go also to Brendan Gray for his work on the outside enclosure and to Excel Roofing for the donation of roofing material. The roof lining looks amazing.

March 2016 Blog - Clinic 2

March 2016 Blog - Clinic 1

Koala rescue news – one injured koala returned to the wild last month
Koala rescue news – the ongoing collection of koalas hit on our major roads continues. Koalas currently in care are still in pre-release stage. One happy case to report however is that one koala rescued by Return to the Wild Inc. was successfully treated at a wildlife hospital and has since been released back to where she came from.

Can you help? – essential support needed in covering costs of fuel
An urgent request!!! Our wonderful sponsors for vehicle and fuel of the past two years have sold their business and as such, we urgently seek a new sponsor to cover this vital cost.

Published: April 15, 2016