Fresh start for 'lonely' koala who has found new family at Longleat

Yani has travelled thousands of miles to her new home. Credit: Tom Anders

A southern koala from Hong Kong is settling into her new life at Longleat after having spent the past four years on her own following the death of her companion. 

Yani travelled more than 6,000 miles to become part the seven-strong colony living at the Wiltshire wildlife attraction’s Koala Creek.

Longleat is home to the only group of southern koalas in Europe and is known for its successful captive breeding programme for the increasingly endangered Australian marsupials.

Longleat keeper James Dennis said: “Yani’s koala companion Dougie died in 2018 from kidney disease that affects a third of southern koalas. She has been alone ever since.

Keepers say Yani has a "stubborn" character and likes her food. Credit: Tom Anders

“Her keepers have done an amazing job looking after Yani but they felt it would be in her best interest for her to live with others of her own kind.

“Here at Longleat she can live a happy and fulfilling life alongside other koalas and play an extremely important role in the conservation of this iconic species.”

Originally from Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, Yani was rescued as an orphan and taken to Cleland Wildlife Park in Queensland before travelling to Hong Kong as part of a captive breeding programme.

Ocean Park and the Australian Government began searching for a suitable new home for Yani after Dougie died and decided Longleat would be the best place to look after her.

James Dennis described the new addition saying: “Yani is an amazing koala, I’d definitely describe her as quite a stubborn character but she loves her food and has already formed close bonds with both her keepers and the other koalas."

He added: “Her arrival means she is now the seventh southern koala in Europe, joining Dennis, Burke, Maizie, Violet, Hazel and Monty here at Longleat."

Longleat was the first place in Europe to successfully rear a baby southern koala and in 2022 they welcomed a second joey when Monty was born.

The safari park has also carried out research on the kidney disease that plagues the species, and believes introducing Yani to their conservation project gives a better chance of breeding a disease-free bloodline of southern koalas that doesn’t exist in the wild.