Five koalas and two wombats are about to travel to a safari park in England, as part of an international ambassador conservation program.
The animals have been in quarantine for five months at the Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide Hills, ahead of their flight from Adelaide to London in the next two days.
The transfer team will be accompanied by a veterinarian, in a specially-arranged Singapore Airlines cargo plane, for the unprecedented 35-hour journey to the Longleat Safari Park in England’s southwest.
South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said the animals will generate greater tourism interest abroad.
“The transfer of the koalas to Longleat has been more than two years in the making, due to the complexity of the operation,” he said.
“Longleat and Cleland specialist teams have been collaborating to ensure the koalas are as well prepared as possible for this unprecedented journey.”
While the transfer of koalas is highly complicated, the transfer of the two wombats is much easier, given they’re used to spending time confined in burrows.
Cleland Director Chris Daniels said planning for the journey started as soon as they determined which koalas had the “right stuff”.
“We needed to ensure the koalas on the training program had the right personalities – that they were happy to be handled, would bond with their keepers, could be readily trained and were not easily stressed. Most importantly, they need to be in excellent health,” Professor Daniels said.
Staff at the Longleat Safari Park will initially import eucalyptus from South Australia to ensure a smooth transition, before moving to European gum leaves.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018