Bear Force One: VIP koala takes seat on UK flight | Inquirer Lifestyle
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Bear Force One: VIP koala takes seat on UK flight

LONDON–A koala scaled new heights this week after flying by passenger plane from Germany to Scotland to become Edinburgh Zoo’s newest resident.

Tanami, a 19-month-old male Queensland koala, had his own seat on Thursday’s Eurowings flight from Dusseldorf to the Scottish capital, as sensitive animals cannot be placed in the hold on aircraft.

The upwardly-mobile marsupial, who remained in a cage for the one hour, 45-minute ride through the skies, left Duisburg Zoo to join Scotland’s only koalas in a conservation breeding programme.

He will trade places with Toorie, a young male koala already in Edinburgh who is set to make the 700-mile reverse journey next week.

“Koalas are very sensitive animals, so special care needs to be taken when transporting them,” said Darren McGarry, head of living collections at the British zoo.

“They travel in the plane’s cabin and not in the hold so keepers can easily make sure everything’s okay during the flight.”

He added Tanami had generated plenty of excitement but public viewings of the new arrival would be restricted this weekend as he adapted to his new home.

“Koalas are a real favorite among our visitors and it’s great to see him settling in well and enjoying his new surroundings,” said McGarry.

The sight of a koala aboard a commercial plane reportedly turned some heads on the plane and on disembarkation.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “We welcome passengers from all over the world… but not all of them are as special or as cute as a koala.

“It was quite exciting to have Tanami arriving here and he joins a list of famous animals who have touched down here to make Edinburgh Zoo their new home.”