Quolls return to Tablelands home after epic journey to Victoria
Issued: 18 Jan 2023
A family of northern quolls is back home in Far North Queensland bushland after going on an accidental 5,600km return journey to Melbourne.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES), the Victorian Conservation Regulator and Melbourne Zoo worked together to bring the family of endangered marsupials home.
Five northern quolls – a mother and her four dependent babies – were found in a box of pumpkins at Melbourne Wholesale Market in Epping, Victoria, on 13 December 2022.
It is believed the quolls entered the box while at a farm in Far North Queensland and were transported to Melbourne along with other cartons of vegetables.
After the stowaways were discovered, the Melbourne Market Authority worked with the Conservation Regulator who organised for the quolls to be taken to Melbourne Zoo and receive care from veterinary staff.
While the quolls were recovering from their travels, Conservation Regulator Forest and Wildlife Officers identified their original location near Cairns in Far North Queensland.
Once the quolls were deemed healthy and ready for release and were flown back to Queensland on 5 January 2023.
DES wildlife officers collected the small animals from Cairns airport that evening and transported them to the Tablelands, where a vet once again assessed their health.
After getting the all-clear, DES wildlife officers successfully released the quolls back to their natural habitat that night.
DES Senior Wildlife Officer Dinouk Perera said this was a great outcome for the family of protected marsupials.
“Northern quolls are native to tropical and sub-tropical climates across Australia and have adapted to thrive in warmer conditions, which means they are not built to live in a typically colder place like Melbourne,” Mr Perera said.
“These quolls are very lucky to have been rescued and taken into care, as they had travelled a long way without food or water. We are very grateful to the Melbourne Market Authority, Melbourne Zoo and Victoria’s Conservation Regulator for working with us to bring these animals home where they belong.”
Victoria’s Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gavens also welcomed the news that the tiny marsupials were successfully returned to the Queensland outback.
“Protecting native wildlife is one of the core functions of the Conservation Regulator in Victoria and our goal is always to keep wildlife in the wild where it belongs,” Ms Gavens said.
“This is an excellent outcome for our officers and these special native animals.”