Ocean Park to get 8, not 2, koalas

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am

Ocean Park will receive eight koalas as a gift from the state government of South Australia, instead of the two it had originally expected.

State premier Mike Rann said yesterday the koalas would arrive in 2014, after feed became available from a eucalyptus plantation being established on the mainland.

Speaking in Canberra yesterday, he said the programme followed the successful loan of two pandas from China to Adelaide Zoo in the state capital, which has brought an increase in visitor numbers, particularly among overseas tourists.

A spokeswoman for Ocean Park said it would be glad to see the eight koalas take up permanent residence in a koala complex that was being prepared.

They would become animal ambassadors at the park to promote conservation of animals and their habitats.

Rann announced the koala programme for the first time in February last year, when the park said it would receive a male and female pair that would arrive within the next two years. It said they would be housed and taken care of in a new habitat at the park, which had never kept a koala. Rann said he would travel to Hong Kong and the mainland later this year, to help launch construction of an enclosure for the Australian national icons.

Hong Kong's Tourism Commission said it welcomed the gifts from the South Australian government, and that Ocean Park would take care in handling details.