A southern koala has been born in Europe for the first time in a major milestone for UK’s Longleat Safari Park’s koala colony.

The joey, which hasn’t been named yet, was birthed by Violet who came to Longleat, along with a few other koalas, in 2018 as part of a conservation program made in with Australian not-for-profit Koala Life.

Lord Bath, patron of Koala Life, said the arrival of the joey is a huge event for the entire team and something they have been working towards since the facility launched three years ago.

“We are still not fully sure on the sex of the joey but hope to get a better idea when it starts to spend more time outside of the pouch. Currently we want to leave them alone as much as possible.”

The joey was born six months ago, however spent the first part of its life inside its mother’s pouch and is only now beginning to venture out.

James Dennis, keeper at Longleat, said it has been a long and complicated process, but an important one.

“As well as helping to raise awareness of the southern koala and the threats it faces in the wild, it is also teaching us so much about the species’ complex lifecycle.

“One of the most concerning issues with regard to southern koalas in Australia is the high levels of inbreeding and so the fact we are able to begin establishing a genetically diverse population here in Europe is also really important.”