PORT Macquarie is stuck in the middle of a koala tug-o-war.
Eight koalas seized by the RSPCA from a wildlife park in Gunnedah, about 350km west of Port Macquarie, are being held at the koala hospital in Lord St.
RSPCA inspectors took the animals from the Waterways Wildlife Park last week after receiving a complaint.
They were brought to Port Macquarie for veterinary care.
But the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital now is at the centre of a growing battle over the animals.
The RSPCA’s raid provoked the wrath of the Gunnedah community, which wants the koalas returned.
The Gunnedah Vet Hospital’s Tina Clifton said there was “complete anger” at the animal welfare organisation.
“There was a town meeting on Wednesday night and about 295 people attended,” Mrs Clifton said.
“There’s also a [internet social site] Facebook page with about 2700 members.”
She said the town, which claims to be the “koala capital of the world”, was left in the dark about the fate of the animals.
“The RSPCA hasn’t told us where these eight koalas are,” she said.
“Our concern is for these koalas’ welfare.”
It is understood that the RSPCA Gunnedah branch has been the target of abuse since the raid and this week called for calm.
“The ongoing investigation of Waterways Wildlife Park has nothing to do with the local branch,” the organisation said in a statement.
“The RSPCA’s focus is on the animals and preserving the rights of the people responsible for the management of the park.”
Koala Preservation Society president Bob Sharpham said the Port Macquarie hospital was unable to comment about the koalas’ health.
“We’re not in a position to make a comment because it is the RSPCA who are managing this issue,” Mr Sharpham said.
IT wasn’t just RSPCA inspectors who raided a wildlife park in Gunnedah last week.
There also was a camera crew from Prime’s popular television show RSPCA Animal Rescue.
It is understood the crew captured footage of RSPCA
officers sedating eight koalas to bring them to Port Macquarie.
But the escalating angst between the RSPCA and the Gunnedah community forced the show to ditch the footage.
“The footage that was taken [and consented to by the owner] will be shelved in the interests of everyone involved, including the animals,” the RSPCA said in a statement.