From Australia with love: Four koalas to be loaned to Singapore Zoo

SINGAPORE - Four koalas from Australia will find a new home at the Singapore Zoo next week.

To commemorate the Republic's 50th birthday and 50 years of diplomatic ties with Singapore, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on Thursday that four koalas will be loaned to the Singapore Zoo for six months.

The koalas will live in an enclosure specially built to suit their needs. Once the Singapore Zoo is able to support a koala colony, the gift will be made permanent.

Named Paddle, Pellita, Chan and Idalia, the four koalas have been under quarantine at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane for several months. After the necessary quarantine procedures are completed and the koala exhibit in the Singapore Zoo is ready, the marsupials will be transported here via Qantas Airways.

To cater to the koalas' diet of eucalyptus, fresh supplies will be flown in to Singapore from Australia twice a week for the duration of the loan.

This gift serves as a gesture of goodwill ahead of plans to formalise a comprehensive strategic partnership between Singapore and Australia. The plan aims to strengthen existing ties between the two countries.

Singapore Foreign Minister K Shanmugam said he was "delighted" that Australia will be loaning four koalas to Singapore: "The loan comes at a special moment for Singapore as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our independence, and as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Australia. Australia’s decision to entrust four of its cherished national icons to Singapore underscores the deep friendship between both countries."

He also thanked Ms Bishop for making the loan of the koalas possible.

"I would like to express my appreciation to Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, who played a key role in Australia’s decision to loan the koalas. I would also like to thank the Australian Government, the Australian High Commission in Singapore, Qantas, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Wildlife Reserves Singapore for their important roles in making this possible,” Mr Shanmugam said.

rtan@sph.com.sg