Longleat, the Wiltshire estate which opened the world’s first drive-through safari outside Africa in 1966, is getting a group of up to six southern koalas from Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide. This will be the only place to see koalas in England, and the only place in Europe to see southern koalas.
After quarantine the koalas, along with a pair of wombats, will move to Koala Creek, a specially designed enclosure with a natural stream, eucalyptus trees, climbing poles and a Koala Care unit.
Viscount Weymouth Ceawlin Thynn, International Patron for Longleat explained the preparations: “We are already growing a plantation of 4,000 eucalyptus trees to ensure the koalas have their favourite food on hand, and one of our keepers has been working at Cleland to get to know our new arrivals,”. Longleat has also employed a full-time browse manager to look after the koalas’ main food source.
Longleat will act as a European hub for the newly-created International Koala Centre of Excellence (ICKE), which is based at Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide. ICKE is an initiative by the Government of South Australia to enhance the management and conservation of the koala. It will fund and direct ground-breaking research and conservation of Australia’s best loved species in the hope of securing its long term future in the wild.
Viscount Weymouth Ceawlin Thynn, said: “Australian native species are a source of great fascination around the world, and we are privileged to be able to share them and their important conservation message with our visitors,”
Right now the only place to see koalas in the UK is Edinburgh Zoo, which has three Queensland koalas, the smaller relative of southern koalas. Southern koalas have much thicker fur and can weigh twice as much as their northern relatives.
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