A male koala has been flown from Osaka in Japan to join Longleat’s koala programme. The 12-year-old was flown from Osaka Tennoji Zoo and accompanied on the flight by his Japanese keepers and vet who are helping him settle in to his new home.
His arrival means Longleat now has what is believed to be the only two male southern koalas outside of Australia and hopes are high he will boost their breeding programme for the iconic Australian marsupials.
After spending time in the koala care room, he will join the other male Dennis and the three females Maizie, Violet and Coorong in the purpose-built display, which features a running stream, climbing poles, naturally-themed indoor and outdoor habitats and a constant supply of fresh eucalyptus leaves.
“We’re delighted to have another male join our existing group and he seems to be settling in really well to his new surroundings,” said Longleat’s Head of Animal Adventure, Graeme Dick.
“He was originally born at Melbourne Zoo back in 2006 where he was named Burke, although in Japan he was known as ‘Ark’.
“His arrival is a major boost for our breeding programme as he will provide us with a greater genetic diversity. We know he has bred successfully in the past and the fact he is an older male is also a plus point.
“We have already seen early signs of courtship and breeding behaviours between the females and Dennis so we’re all cautiously optimistic we could have some positive news in the not too distant future,” he added.
Longleat is part of the International Koala Centre of Excellence (IKCE) – a ground-breaking joint initiative between Longleat, Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide and the Government of South Australia to enhance the management and conservation of the koala.
In 2012 the koala was listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ in some parts of Australia.