Five furry recruits flown 10,000 miles to the UK to help protect the species
PERCHED up high on a eucalyptus tree, this koala looks like she is settling in very well to her new home.
She is one of five who have been flown 10,000 miles from Australia to Britain as part of a project to protect the species.
They travelled by plane on Thursday night in crates filled with eucalyptus branches, along with two southern hairy-nosed wombats.
When they landed in London, they were met by a fleet of zebra-striped 4x4s and promptly driven to Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.
The semi-wild koalas – four females and one male – are from Cleland Wildlife Park in south Australia. The marsupials, all aged between two and three, are now living in Longleat’s purposebuilt Koala Creek enclosure, with 4,000 eucalyptus trees, a natural stream and climbing poles. The creek will be open to visitors from Easter next year after they have settled in.
It will be the only place in Europe where visitors can see southern koalas, the thicker-furred variety, which can weigh twice as much as northern koalas. The project is part of a conservation drive to ‘back-up’ the species away from bushfires and disease in Australia.
Graeme Dick, head of animal adventure at Longleat, said the koalas are in excellent health and settling in well. He said: ‘If we lose koalas as a species, there’s nothing else like them.’
Epic trip: Landing in the UK on Thursday Branching out: One of the koalas and above, with an Australian keeper