Female koala to join two males at Edinburgh Zoo

Alinga will touch down at Edinburgh Airport on Thursday February 14. Picture:  Claudia Kuster
Alinga will touch down at Edinburgh Airport on Thursday February 14. Picture: Claudia Kuster
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EDINBURGH Zoo will be hoping there is romance in the air for their koalas, after announcing that a female koala will join resident males Goonaroo and Yabbra on Valentine’s Day.

One-year-old Alinga – whose name means Sun in the Aboriginal – will touch down at Edinburgh Airport on Thursday, February 14, direct from Duisburg Zoo. Flying with Lufthansa German Airlines, Alinga will travel in style as she joins passengers with her very own seat and plenty of eucalyptus in the aeroplane’s cabin.

She will be accompanied by Edinburgh Zoo’s Darren McGarry, Head of Living Collections and Lorna Hughes, Team Leader of Primates & Koalas.

Edinburgh Zoo has had significant success in looking after male koalas over the last eight years, who then went on to partner female koalas at other zoos, and the arrival of a female will raise hopes that a little koala joey may be born on Scottish soil.

Visitors will be able to see Alinga around a week after she arrives. She will then be introduced to the males as soon as she’s had a chance to settle in, and keepers said it would be a slow process to begin with, but that the Valentine’s Day arrival was hopefully an auspicious sign.

Announcing the arrival, the zoo also revealed it planned to develop the existing koala enclosure, redesigning the entrance and having a member of staff on hand to answer any koala related questions.

Mr McGarry said: “The anticipated arrival of our female koala Alinga on Valentine’s Day is a fantastic achievement for everyone at the Zoo. At Edinburgh Zoo we have the expertise, animal husbandry and experience that this species requires; we are incredibly hopeful that Alinga will successfully breed and produce joeys with our resident males, Goonaroo and Yabbra.

“We’re also planning an exciting over-haul of our current koala exhibit in 2013. As the only place in the UK to have koalas, they are extremely popular amongst our visitors and we’re looking to build on and develop what we already have to improve the visitor experience.

“As zoologists and conversationalists it would be wonderful accolade and first for us to produce a koala joey here in Scotland: meaning that this joey would then eventually go off and play a key role in the wider conservation breeding programme.

“It will be animal Team Leader, Lorna Hughes and I who will make the journey to Germany to collect Alinga and we’ll be travelling in style thanks to Lufthansa German Airlines, who are kindly facilitating the transport process. It will be a truly memorable moment when we step off the plane with her and get her settled into her new home here at Edinburgh Zoo - this is made doubly special as this will all be happening during our centenary year.”

Koala numbers are in decline throughout the Eastern coast of Australia where they naturally occur for several reasons. Mainly, the Eucalyptus forests that the koalas depend upon for survival are disappearing to make way for roads and housing as more areas are being inhabited by humans