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H.K. to receive 8 Koalas in tourism deal.

HONG KONG, April 22 Kyodo

South Australia and Hong Kong signed a deal to send eight koalas to a theme park in Hong Kong to appeal to Chinese tourists, the Australian Consulate General in Hong Kong said Monday.

The deal was raised in 2011.

The tree-hugging animals native to Australia will arrive by August 2014 following the completion of an enclosed habitat at the Ocean Park that will also "highlight the natural wonders of South Australia."

Jay Weatherill, premier of South Australia, said the signing "represented a fantastic opportunity to contribute to (the) state's goal of increasing the number of Chinese visitors to Australia's southern state."

Apart from being a fun fair, the park also houses animals from around the world, including aquatic animals, fish, pandas, reptiles and birds to facilitate animal welfare awareness.

The park's earlier plan to bring in wild beluga whales from Russia

to beef up its animal variety was dropped. It faced animal rights groups' opposition.

Staff from Cleland Wildlife Park will assist in the preparation for the koalas' arrival, train local caretakers and veterinarians, give advice on the enclosure and planting of eucalyptus trees, the koalas' only food source.

Established in 1977, Ocean Park saw a record breaking 7.5 million visitors last year, largely an influx of Chinese mainland tourists who made up half the attendance.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9HONG
Date:Apr 22, 2013
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