South Australia has signed an agreement to provide eight koalas to Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
Ranked as one of the ten most popular theme parks in the world by Forbes magazine, Ocean Park is developing a $5m enclosure to house the koalas, to be transferred in August next year.
Premier Jay Weatherill, who witnessed the signing in Hong Kong, said the agreement represented a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the state’s goal of increasing the number of Chinese visitors to South Australia.
“Through this arrangement the attractions of South Australia will be on display to the many millions of annual visitors to Ocean Park,” Mr Weatherill said
“To house the koalas, Ocean Park Zoo will be developing a $5 million themed enclosure and growing a 13ha eucalyptus forest in Guangzhou, China.”
Cleland Wildlife Park will raise the koalas, to be transferred in August 2014, and the
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources will be responsible for technical advice and overseeing the transfer.
Staff from Cleland Wildlife Park are working with Ocean Park to prepare for their arrival, including training zoo keepers, vets and other staff, advising on the enclosure and facilities and the planting and care of eucalyptus species.
Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said the signing reinforced the goodwill between the
Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of South Australia, and would greatly promote bilateral relations.
“I am very pleased to announce this agreement, which will lead to the development of a greater economic and cultural relationship between the two parties,” Mr Bignell said.
“We like to consider South Australia as the doorway to our country, and with this signing I can confidently say that door is open to our friends in Hong Kong and China.”
Ocean Park is a financially-independent, not-for-profit organisation which offers a mix of entertainment, education and conservation facilities to guests.
In April this year, Ocean Park was reaccredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums - the world’s leading authority in zoological care and operations - for a third successive five-year term.