New home for koalas in bid to pro­tect species

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - CLAIRE HAY­HURST news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

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

The 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 were de­clared fit and well.

Graeme Dick, of Lon­gleat, said: “We’re de­lighted to an­nounce the ar­rival of the koalas and wom­bats here at Lon­gleat. All ap­pear in ex­cel­lent health and are set­tling in well.

“This is the cul­mi­na­tion of a twoyear 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. The project will en­able con­ser­va­tion re­search that will help to pro­tect the koala pop­u­la­tion in South Aus­tralia.

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: “We are thrilled to wel­come our South Aus­tralian am­bas­sador an­i­mals to the UK. Th­ese crea­tures are an in­te­gral part of help­ing us spread the na­tive con­ser­va­tion mes­sage.

“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 newly-cre­ated 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.

They will live along­side a pair of south­ern hairy-nosed wom­bats, which are the koala’s clos­est rel­a­tives.

Their en­clo­sure, named Koala Creek, in­cludes a nat­u­ral stream, eu­ca­lyp­tus trees, climb­ing poles, nat­u­rally-themed in­door and out­door habi­tats and a koala care unit. The pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity will be open to vis­i­tors from next spring.

We’re de­lighted to an­nounce the ar­rival

of the koalas and wom­bats

here at Lon­gleat – this is the cul­mi­na­tion

of a twoyear project

and the be­gin­ning

of an ex­cit­ing new era

David McGirr/Lon­gleat

Leland wildlife keeper Ashleigh Hunter with one of koalas set­tling into their new home at Lon­gleat af­ter theyar­rived at Heathrow, top left

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.