msnbc.com
updated 5/11/2011 2:44:51 PM ET 2011-05-11T18:44:51

A 13-year-old koala stolen from an Australian zoo has been found dumped in plastic waste bin in a parking lot, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The abduction of the koala named Banjo was believed to be the first theft of its kind, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Zoo keepers said Banjo was recovered after an anonymous tipster alerted a receptionist at the Australian Reptile Park, near Gosford, north of Sydney, according to the Telegraph.

Keepers found the creature in a plastic waste bin with a milk crate on top of him in the parking lot.

Head zoo keeper Tim Faulkner said Banjo was slightly dehydrated but in good condition.

Banjo was off display when he was stolen sometime Monday evening.

The zoo's general manager, Mary Rayner, said zoo officials were worried for the koala's health because "it's his first winter" in New South Wales and at 13, he's considered elderly by koala standards.

Story: Theft of elderly koala has zoo worried

The zoo acquired the koala early this year from a zoo in the warmer Gold Coast, and Rayner told the Telegraph that he had lost some weight during the move, so keepers were supplementing his diet of eucalyptus leaves with a special paste.

"We were hoping to get Banjo's weight back up before winter," she said.

"He was in his own enclosure because we were concerned about him and we wanted him to get used to his new home before we introduced him to any females."

In the United States, Two female koalas were stolen from the San Francisco Zoo in December 2000. The animals were recovered within a day and two juvenile boys were arrested in the case, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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