Koalas in 10,000-mile flight to new UK home

Sa­fari park cre­ates spe­cial en­clo­sure for five Aus­tralian na­tives in con­ser­va­tion project

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - CLAIRE HAY­HURST

Five south­ern koalas have ar­rived at their new home in Wilt­shire af­ter fly­ing 10,000 miles from Aus­tralia.

The iconic mar­su­pi­als trav­elled from Cle­land Wildlife Park near Ade­laide to Lon­gleat sa­fari park in a bid to pro­tect their species.

They were spe­cial guests on a Sin­ga­pore Air­lines Cargo air­craft, ac­com­pa­nied by keep­ers and a vet­eri­nary team.

Af­ter touch­ing down at Heathrow on Thurs­day night, the koalas were picked up from the run­way and trans­ported to Lon­gleat.

They were given a full health check on ar­rival and de­clared fit and well.

Graeme Dick, of Lon­gleat, said: “We’re de­lighted to an­nounce the ar­rival of the koalas and wom­bats.

“All ap­pear in ex­cel­lent health and are set­tling in well. This is the cul­mi­na­tion of a two-year project and the be­gin­ning of an ex­cit­ing new era.

“We hope these an­i­mals will act as con­ser­va­tion am­bas­sadors for the species, and pro­mote con­ser­va­tion and ed­u­ca­tion about Aus­tralian mar­su­pi­als.”

The ar­rival of the koalas is part of an ini­tia­tive by the Govern­ment of South Aus­tralia to en­hance the man­age­ment and con­ser­va­tion of the koala. South­ern koalas, which have thicker fur and can weigh twice as much as north­ern koalas, are not an en­dan­gered species but are con­sid­ered to be vul­ner­a­ble.

Bill Muir­head, agent gen­eral of the Govern­ment of South Aus­tralia, said:

All ap­pear in ex­cel­lent health... GRAEME DICK

“The ar­rival of the first South­ern koalas in Europe is now a mile­stone in the fight to pro­tect the koala pop­u­la­tion in South Aus­tralia from be­com­ing en­dan­gered.”

Lon­gleat will act as a Euro­pean hub for the In­ter­na­tional Koala Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence.

The koalas will now spend around six months away from vis­i­tors to the park as they set­tle into their new home.

Pic­ture: PA

Keeper Ash­leigh Hunter with one of the Koalas set­tling into its new Wilt­shire home.

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