Celebrations are underway after a Southern Koala was born in Europe for the first time ever, following an ambitious conservation program between the State Government and a world-renowned homestead in the United Kingdom.
In October 2018 Cleland Wildlife Park koalas Dennis, Maizie, Coorong and Violet arrived at their new home - Wiltshire’s Longleat Safari and Wildlife Park – in a bid to raise the profile of koalas throughout Europe.
Longleat has a today announced Violet has given birth to a joey who will makes its first public appearance over the next few days to coincide with the wildlife park’s reopening following winter.
The yet-to-be named joey, whose sex is still to be determined, has spent the past six months of its life safely inside their mother’s pouch, and can now be safely revealed to the world after beginning to venture outside.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said this is a major milestone for the conservation program that was coordinated by survival science not-for-profit Koala Life in partnership with Cleland Wildlife Park, with the support of South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“This is wonderful news and will again place a spotlight on Southern koalas in the Northern Hemisphere,” Minister Speirs said.
“Through this special partnership, Longleat is helping us to spread an important education and conservation message.
“A combined team effort helped to safely transfer these koalas from the Mount Lofty Ranges to the United Kingdom and this is a perfect example of how like-minded organisations and agencies can achieve great conservation outcomes.
“This program is one of many efforts the Marshall Liberal Government is undertaking to help secure the long-term survival of the much-loved Southern koala.”
Koala Life Chair Professor Chris Daniels said the joey represents the culmination of a fantastic partnership to understand and protect koalas.
“This successful effort will help Longleat and Koala Life to better develop and understand captive breeding methodology and animal husbandry,” Professor Daniels said.
“Longleat now has a small but vital group of healthy animals free of debilitating diseases including chlamydia and retrovirus.
“The continued growth of the colony will help us understand how to keep sanctuary populations heathy and provide important information about the effects of these diseases.”
Marquess of Bath Ceawlin Thynn, who is the international patron of Koala Life and Longleat chairman, said “The arrival of the first baby southern koala is a huge event for the entire team here and something we have all been working towards and hoping for since we launched the new facility three years ago.”
“We are delighted with how well both mother and baby are doing. As well as being a first for us, this is also Violet’s first experience of motherhood, and she is proving to be a caring and attentive parent.
“We are still not fully sure on the sex of the joey but hope to get a better idea when it starts to spend more time outside of the pouch. Currently we want to leave them alone as much as possible.”
The continued success of Koala Life’s ongoing research into koala genetics and disease treatment is made possible by public donations including those from visitors to the Longleat Safari and Wildlife Park.
The Koala Creek exhibit at Longleat, which was opened in March 2019, replicates the Mt Lofty Ranges landscape with a view of the Adelaide skyline including Adelaide Oval before transforming into an English country creek habitat outside.
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