SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S GIFT TO HONG KONG – A PAIR OF KOALAS
Premier Mike Rann, in a mark of friendship via furry animal diplomacy, has announced a gift of a pair of koalas to China that will take up residence in the famous zoo, Ocean Park Hong Kong.
Mr Rann says the idea came from the Lieutenant Governor Mr Hieu Van Le who had been involved in discussions with the Hong Kong Regional Government’s Financial Secretary Hon John Tsang JP recently.
“The people of China are just as enthusiastic about koalas as we are about pandas it seems,” Mr Rann said.
“We are delighted to be involved in such a fantastic exchange of these delightful animals.
“It will serve to help further strengthen our important trading and cultural relationship between South Australia and Hong Kong.
“Apparently 30 million people visit Ocean Park Hong Kong each year, so the “South Australian Koala enclosure” will be a great promotion for our tourism.
“The Ocean Park Zoo should be in a position to accept the koalas in about the next two years, once their habitat has been established and they have sufficient food resources of eucalypt trees available for them.
“I am delighted that the Department of Environment and Heritage are negotiating the transfer. I’m also pleased Professor Chris West, the Chief Executive of Zoos SA, has agreed to become Ocean Park’s special consultant on the koala transfer program.
“With his advice, the Ocean Park Zoo should have the very best available facilities for the koalas to move into when they are ready.
“It was Prof West who ensured that the giant pandas had the very best home to move into when they arrived in Adelaide late last year.
“It was under his guidance that the planning for the pandas was kept to less than five years – a record time in terms of exporting pandas out of China into another country.
“We have also informed the Hong Kong Government that while all of the standard quarantine and other animal export protocols must be followed, the Ocean Park Zoo will be entitled to keep any offspring from the breeding pair of koalas that will be sent.
“The koalas, sourced from the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills, will either be orphaned and unable to return to the wild, or the offspring of koalas bred in captivity,” Mr Rann said.