ADELAIDE, Australia (NEXSTAR) – An Australian family found an unusual addition to their Christmas tree decorations Wednesday – nestled among the lights and ornaments was a live koala.
The misguided marsupial apparently slipped into the McCormicks’ Aidelaide home while the doors were open and scaled the tree after they left that afternoon, shutting the doors with the animal inside, according to The Guardian.
When they got back around 6 p.m., the dog started sniffing near the tree and they noticed ornaments scattered on the floor – then they looked up and saw the koala.
“It was pretty tangled up in the lights. It was a fake tree and very old but she still tried eating the leaves off it … I saw her munch down on some but she stopped when she realized it was plastic,” 16-year-old Taylah told The Guardian.
Taylah named the unexpected Christmas tree resident Daphne.
Mother Amanda McCormick said she initially thought it was a joke, or possibly one of her children’s stuffed animals. They called the Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue, but even the operator didn’t take them seriously at first.
“This evening our hotline operator took a call. At first she thought she was the victim of a prank call,” the rescue group wrote on Facebook. “But no, a koala desperate to get in the Christmas spirit had wandered into Amanda McCormick’s house and decided it wanted to be the fairy on the Christmas tree.”
Workers with the nonprofit dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating koalas responded to the home, and, after a short struggle with a grunting, uncooperative Daphne, they safely released her into the wild.
“She didn’t want to leave actually, they had a bit of a fight trying to get her off the tree. I think she was quite comfortable,” Amanda McCormick told ABC Radio Adelaide.