Symbio's koalas move into modern sanctuary

They say change is as good as a holiday, so Symbio Wildlife Park's koala population are set to have a luxury vacation as they move into their new sanctuary at the Helensburgh zoological animal resort.

The new koala sanctuary was completed just in time for the summer break and some of the koala population have already taken up residence.

The new exhibition space is part of a multimillion-dollar development at Symbio Wildlife Park this year that managing director John Radnidge said was the biggest year of change in its 40-year history.

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That was made possible thanks to the support of AusIndustry, NSW Trade and Investment and Bluescope Steel through the IRIIF grant program.

A new reptile house, already being described as the best in Australia, will also open before the end of summer.

In the meantime, general manager Matt Radnidge said the new koala sanctuary would contribute to the population management program in Australia designed to help save the critically endangered species.

"With less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild it is critical that zoological institutions like Symbio participate in positive population management programs which contribute to genetic sustainability," he said.

"The koala sanctuary will initially be home to four female and one male koala, with the view to increase the population through successful breeding at Symbio."

A new exclusive VIP experience with a koala in the new exhibit is one of a number of new initiatives being introduced in 2014.

Matt Radnidge designed and built the new exhibit with the help of many of the Symbio team.

"It is an open exhibit, allowing our koalas to live in and enjoy a more naturalistic environment," he said.

"The sanctuary has a covered walk-through for general public with up-close viewing vantage points and VIP viewing deck for groups, which will also allow for more engaging keeper talks."

The koala sanctuary is the first of a six-stage development to open in 2014.

Other new attractions include a state-of-the-art reptile house, a lion exhibit and a cheetah exhibit, a ring-tail lemur island, covered eating areas and an upgrade to facilities and amenities around the park.

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