Koalas in 10,000-mile flight to new UK home
Safari park creates special enclosure for five Australian natives in conservation project
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: “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.
“All appear in excellent health... GRAEME DICK
Keeper Ashleigh Hunter with one of the Koalas settling into its new Wiltshire home.