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Anything to declare? Arrested Australian hands over bag containing baby koala

The woman told police she had found the baby koala on a main road in southern Brisbane. Photograph: Robyn Taylor-Ward/AFP/Getty Images

The woman told police she had found the baby koala on a main road in southern Brisbane. Photograph: Robyn Taylor-Ward/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taken into custody by Queensland police has stunned officers by handing over a baby koala she had been secretly carrying inside a zipped canvas bag.

The East Brisbane woman, 50, was asked if she had anything to declare after her arrest on unrelated matters by officers on patrol in the city’s south on Sunday night. She produced the bag, saying it contained a joey.

“Not quite believing their ears, the officers cautiously unzipped the bag and found this gorgeous boy,” police said in a media statement. “There are many firsts in our job and last night was one of those for officers from the Upper Mount Gravatt tactical crime squad.”

The woman’s claims that she was caring for the joey after finding it on a main road in the southern Brisbane suburb of Nathan the previous evening were being examined, police said.

Koalas are protected under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act and cannot be held as pets but the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection gives members of the public 72 hours to hand in wildlife species they find.

Alfred is believed to be about six months old. He was slightly dehydrated but otherwise in good health. Photograph: Robyn Taylor-Ward/AFP/Getty Images

Alfred is believed to be about six months old. He was slightly dehydrated but otherwise in good health. Photograph: Robyn Taylor-Ward/AFP/Getty Images

The woman and koala were taken to the Brisbane city watch house, where the RSPCA took the joey into its care.

The 1.5kg koala, believed to be about six months old and slightly dehydrated but otherwise in good health, has been named Alfred, an RSPCA Queensland spokesman said.

“He’s been on fluids but is doing well and will shortly be going out to a carer,” Michael Beatty said.

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