A joey cruelly stuffed into a Queensland post box has been rescued with a veterinarian saying it would likely have died from the heat if it was trapped much longer.
Queensland fire services went to the Australia Post box at Woongoolba on the Gold Coast about 7am on Friday following reports a joey was inside. Someone attempting to post an item initially heard the marsupial.
The rescued seven-month-old eastern grey kangaroo was taken to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where it was placed on an intravenous drip after showing signs of dehydration.
The wildlife hospital’s senior veterinarian, Dr Michael Pyne, said the animal most likely would have perished by the end of the day if it hadn’t been removed from the post box given temperatures topped 30C.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve seen some weird stuff but never anything like this,” said Pyne. “We’re just very lucky she wasn’t in there for long before it was removed. Heat would have been the main threat.”
The vet said the joey, which also received an X-ray and a blood test, would be hand-raised by a wildlife carer after being permanently separated from its mother.
Capable of weighing 30kg when fully-grown, the eastern grey would eventually be given a “soft release”, which involves it being eased back into its natural habitat.
RSPCA Queensland said the animal welfare organisation was investigating the act of animal cruelty. The maximum penalty if someone is convicted is three years in jail.
“We are appealing for anyone with information to come forward,” spokesman Michael Beatty told Guardian Australia. “You can’t be doing that. I don’t know why anyone would stuff a joey in a mailbox. If you found an injured joey you should call a vet or take it to the vet at the very least.”