Koala wanders into family's home, climbs Christmas tree

It seems that everyone is trying to get into the Christmas spirit this year — even koalas. An Australian family was in for a big surprise this week when they discovered a koala had wandered into their home and climbed into their Christmas tree.

"Well that's something you don't see every day," wrote Amanda McCormick in a Facebook post Wednesday. "We just came home to a real life koala up our Xmas tree in our lounge room!"

McCormick posted photos on Facebook of the curious creature nestled among the tree's ornaments and looking quite content with its new perch in the Coromandel Valley, South Australia, home.

She explained in the comments of the post that the family had left the back door open so their dog could get in and out in the morning. "Little lady must have just wandered in and made herself at home!" McCormick wrote.

While the koala, nicknamed Daphne, may have been a cute addition to the tree, the animal certainly couldn't stay there. So McCormick called volunteer-run koala rescue organization, 1300KOALAZ.

The organization said when its hotline operator received the call about the holiday koala, she thought she was being pranked.

"It's not a common event for koalas to wander into peoples homes but it does happen from time to time. They live throughout the Adelaide suburbs now so it is going to happen," Dee Hearne-Hellon, the co-founder of the organization, told CBS News. "We have never had a koala in a Christmas tree before, certainly a first for us."

Hearne-Hellon told CBS News that two of the group's volunteer rescuers were able to retrieve the koala in "just a few minutes" from its festive spot in the tree.

McCormick posted a Facebook video of the rescue, showing the volunteers carefully approaching the creature and even giving the animal a few pats. "She's very calm," McCormick can be heard saying in the video.

The volunteers placed a towel over the koala and began to move it, which prompted it to appear to growl. They then carefully lifted the creature off the tree and into a carrier.

The female koala, nicknamed Daphne by the family, is about 3 to 4 years old, Hearne-Hellon said. The little creature was healthy and was promptly released back outside into a large gum tree at the front of the family's property.

Hearne-Hellon said koalas found in homes should be left alone, "as they can be quite aggressive when confronted." She suggested people call a local rescue group for assistance if they ever encounter a koala in their house.

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