Longleat welcomes koala from Japan as park tries to save endangered animal

A rare koala from Japan has arrived at Longleat Safari Park to join a breeding programme that hopes to save the species.

The male koala, called Burke, has travelled nearly 10,000 miles from Osaka Tennoji Zoo to join a breeding programme at the Wiltshire park.

He's now settling into his new home with the help of a vet and some Japanese keepers, who accompanied him on the flight.

Longleat is part of a wider scheme to help conserve the koala. Credit: Longleat Safari Park

The 12-year-old marsupial will spend some time in the koala care room at Longleat before joining Dennis, Maizie, Violet and Coorong in the Koala Creek Exhibit.

Viscount Weymouth opened it in March 2019. It's part of a wider project to protect the species from becoming endangered in South Australia.

Now that Burke has arrived at Longleat, it's believed the safari park is home to the only two male southern koalas outside of Australia.

Burke was born at Melbourne Zoo in 2006 before moving to Japan, where he was nicknamed 'Ark'.

Burke will take some time to settle into his new home before joining the other marcupials in the exhibit. Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Graeme Dick, Longleat's Head of Animal Adventure, said his arrival is a "major boost" for the park's breeding programme as he'll offer a "greater genetic diversity" and has "bred successfully in the past".

According to Graeme, staff have already seen some early signs of bonding between Burke and the other koalas.

We could be in for some good news soon, then...