Humane Society International is deeply saddened that one of five koalas recently sent to the United Kingdom from Adelaide has died less than three months after arrival, and is calling for the cessation of Australian wildlife export approvals without a clear and direct conservation benefit.
The koala transfer was touted in the media as being for a "special breeding program” in a "bid to protect the species from extinction”, however the Statement of Reasons obtained by Humane Society International shows this is not the case, with the application for export made "for the non-commercial purpose of exhibition”.
"Australian wildlife simply should not be put at risk through overseas exports when there is no clear conservation benefit to the species. This transfer was touted by all involved as a bid to save koalas through a breeding program, but let's call it what it is – a business transaction by a private zoo,” said Evan Quartermain, Head of Programs at Humane Society International.
"The types of activities that lead to exports being considered "non-commercial” need urgent review. The safari park in question charges a $60 entry fee, and it appears some signage at their koala exhibit was all that was required to have the export approved by the Department of Environment.
"We're very concerned at the increasing trend of wildlife being sent overseas for financial reasons. Hundreds of endangered birds to a private zoo in Germany, export conditions being developed for platypus so we can send them to the United States, and these koalas to the United Kingdom being among recent examples. Efforts to conserve our native wildlife must be focused on preservation in the wild where they face a multitude of threats such as habitat destruction.”
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