Longleat koala dies after contracting liver disease

Five koalas arrived at Longleat Safari Park in October Credit: Longleat Safari Park

One of Longleat Safari Park's female koalas has died after she became ill with a serious kidney disease.

Wilpena was one of five koalas to arrive from Southern Australia as part of a a breeding programme to secure their future.

Koalas are currently considered a vulnerable species which experts say is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances that are threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

Longleat Safari Park announced they had to put Wilpena down after she contracted oxalate nephrosis - which staff say is very common in koalas both in the wild and in captivity.

Two years of planning went into bringing the koalas safely to Wiltshire. The flight from Australia to the UK was the longest journey this breed of koala has ever done.

Staff had to ensure the animals felt settled in their travel crates before their flight, a process that took six months.

Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Longleat is now the only place in Europe where southern Koalas can been seen, acting as a hub for the newly-created International Koala Centre of Excellence (ICKE), which is based at Cleland, Australia.

The aim of the ICKE is to research koalas and generate information in the hope of securing a long term future for koalas in the wild.