Really should koala cuddles be banned? This zoo thinks so

By Tiffanie TurnbullBBC Information, Sydney

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary/Getty Images Taylor Swift and Pope John Paul II holding Lone Pine koalasLone Pine Koala Sanctuary/Getty Photographs

Taylor Swift and Pope John Paul II keeping Lone Pine koalas

For what looks like time immemorial, offering a fluffy minimal koala a cuddle has been an Australian ceremony of passage for visiting famous people, vacationers and locals alike.

And for several of them, a wildlife park in a leafy pocket of Queensland has been the place earning dreams arrive real.

The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has entertained everyone from pop giant Taylor Swift to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But as of this month, the modest zoo – a Brisbane icon which payments alone as the world’s to start with koala sanctuary – has determined it will no for a longer period give “koala hold experiences”.

Lone Pine explained the move is in reaction to more and more solid visitor responses.

“We enjoy that there is a shift amongst both of those neighborhood and intercontinental friends to practical experience Australian wildlife up close, but not necessarily personalized, just accomplishing what they do most effective – having, sleeping and comforting inside their have room,” reported Standard Supervisor Lyndon Discombe.

Animal legal rights teams say they hope this is a indicator that the follow – which they argue is “cruel” – will be phased out nation-extensive.

They quotation scientific tests which have found that these encounters worry koalas out – specifically specified that the creatures are solitary, largely nocturnal animals who sleep most of the day.

To have or to keep?

Koalas are a a lot beloved national icon – priceless in biodiversity conditions, but also a golden goose for the tourism marketplace, with a person review from 2014 estimating they’re worth A$3.2bn ($2.14bn £1.68bn) each year and assist up to 30,000 work.

However the when-flourishing marsupial is in extraordinary decrease, owning been ravaged by land clearing, bushfires, drought, disease and other threats.

With as couple as 50,000 of the animals still left in the wild and the species formally outlined as endangered along substantially of the east coastline, there are now fears the animals will be extinct in some states inside a era.

And so defending koalas, both equally in the wild and in captivity, is an psychological and elaborate matter in Australia.

All states have rigid environmental protections for the species, and several of them have previously outlawed koala “holding”.

For case in point, New South Wales – Australia’s most populous condition – banned it in 1997. There, the principles point out that a koala simply cannot be “placed straight on… or [be] immediately held by any customer for any purpose”.

But in Queensland – and a find number of areas in South Australia and Western Australia – the practice carries on.

For people willing to fork out, they can snap a picture cuddling a koala, from Gold Coast topic park Dreamworld for A$29.95 to the internationally renowned Australia Zoo for A$124.

But the Queensland govt say there are clear principles all around this. For starters, the koalas can not be employed for photography for more than three days in a row right before they’re essential to have a working day off.

They can only be on duty for 30 minutes a day, and a overall of 180 minutes just about every 7 days. And girls with joeys ought to not be taken care of by the public.

“I utilized to joke, as the environment minister, that our koalas have the best union around,” mentioned Queensland Premier Steven Miles.

Getty Images Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin with koalasGetty Visuals

Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin with Lone Pine koalas

Correct teams have welcomed the choice – but some have termed for these attractions to be eliminated altogether finally.

“The long term of wildlife tourism is observing wild animals in the wild exactly where they belong,” stated Suzanne Milthorpe of the Planet Animal Defense (WAP).

Wild koalas stay clear of interactions with human beings, but at these points of interest have no decision but to be uncovered to unfamiliar people, sights and noises, suggests WAP – a London-dependent group which strategies to conclusion the use of captive wild animals in amusement venues.

“Tourists are increasingly moving absent from out-of-date, demanding selfie encounters.”

The Intercontinental Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Australia also suggests that “in the great globe, koalas would hardly ever have make contact with with humans”, introducing that they would “like to see this adopted throughout the board”.

“As cute as they are, koalas are even now wild animals in captivity and are extremely prone to strain,” Oceania director Rebecca Keeble explained to the BBC.

“Their welfare is paramount and as they are an endangered species we need to have to do all we can to guard them.”

But the hope that Lone Pine’s transfer would incorporate momentum in direction of a state-vast ban appears to have been scuppered.

A government spokesperson instructed the BBC there is no intention of transforming the legislation.

However WAP claims it will keep piling force on other venues to go away the koalas on their trees.

“Ultimately, we need the Queensland Governing administration to consign this cruel exercise to the history textbooks.”

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