Police in Australia are investigating after a dead koala was found nailed to a wooden post in Queensland.
Koala Rescue Queensland posted a picture of the animal on its Facebook page saying it was unclear whether it had been “cruelly attached” to the post when it was still alive or after it had died.
It was discovered at Brooloo Park Lookout on Wednesday.
The small koala can be seen clinging to a pillar of what looks like a wooden shelter, holding a bunch of leaves.
“All is not as it seems in this photo,” the animal rescue organisation said.
“This poor koala has been screwed to the pole with building screws, he is deceased, but whether or not he was when cruelly attached to the structure is unknown.”
The rescue group has urged anyone who can help find the culprits to contact them or the police.
“Police are currently investigating the matter,” said sergeant Pierre Senekal, at nearby Kenilworth.
He said the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) will organise a post-mortem to determine the cause of death.
Animal cruelty carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison or fines of up to A$252,300 (£147,328) in Queensland.
“This is very disturbing,” Queensland RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said.
“Whether or not the koala was dead, how somebody would think this was in some way humorous, when little kids go to that lookout area, is beyond me.”
The koala was listed as a vulnerable species under an Australian conservation law in 2012 and there are fewer than 100,000 of the marsupials left in the wild.
The Australian Koala Foundation estimates the figure could even be as few as 43,000.