Lovelorn koala nabbed after zoo escape in hunt for mate

Irene the koala was discovered missing from its holding yard at the Australian Reptile Park, some 50km north of Sydney, park officials said.
Irene the koala was discovered missing from its holding yard at the Australian Reptile Park, some 50km north of Sydney, park officials said.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian wildlife staff needed a crane to rescue a lovelorn female koala which escaped from its enclosure at the start of its first mating season, impatient to find a partner.

Irene the koala was discovered missing from its holding yard at the Australian Reptile Park outside Sydney on Thursday (Oct 5), park officials said.

The two-year-old was eventually found stuck in a nearby tree after a "Houdini-style" escape through an opening in its pen, they said.

General manager Tim Faulkner said Irene had only recently reached sexual maturity, and this week marked the start of the annual koala mating season.

"It's not the first time we've had a young female koala keen on finding a mate, and it's no coincidence she made her way out of her yard to find a mate's yard," he said.

Park officials insisted Irene's desires would be satisfied, but more prosaically.

It "will be introduced to the correct male after 'selective pairings are made', managed by a stud book," the park said.