Longleat is unveiling a host of all-new animal adventures for the 2019 season.
The major new attraction is Koala Creek, which opens on 29th March, and is home to a group of southern koalas.
The iconic marsupials’ arrival is part of a ground-breaking initiative by the Government of South Australia to enhance the management and conservation of the koala.
Longleat will act as a European hub for the newly-created International Koala Centre of Excellence (IKCE).
Their spacious new enclosure includes a natural stream, eucalyptus trees, climbing poles, naturally-themed indoor and outdoor habitats, viewing areas, interpretation boards as well as a Koala Care unit.
Longleat will be the only place to see koalas in England, one of only two locations in the UK, and the only one in Europe to look after southern koalas. Koala Creek will also be home to a pair of wombats as well as a group of potoroos.
Another brand new species going on display in time for the February Half Term Holidays will be a pair of two-metre-long Critically Endangered Cuban crocodiles.
As well as their colourful markings, the crocodiles are renowned for their athletic abilities; jumping high out of the water to catch birds and mammals from overhanging branches. The two females are part of an international conservation programme for the species.
Their new semi-aquatic display will also be home to shoals of fish and, later in the year, dozens of brightly-coloured tropical butterflies.
The crocodiles are being joined by another amazing South American animal in the shape of a giant otter. Mostly found along the mighty Amazon, giant otters are the largest members of the mustelid family and can reach lengths in excess of 1.7 metres.
Initially Longleat will be looking after a single female but keepers are in the process of placing an international lonely hearts appeal to find her a mate which they hope will arrive later this year.
The Wiltshire wildlife attraction’s woods are also echoing to the legendary howling of a pack of European wolves for the first time. A brand new pack of six wolves, identical to those which once roamed Britain, has moved into Wolf Wood.
Visitors can also view the new colony of Colobus monkeys living on Nico’s Island, meet hyenas and cheetahs, as well as the famous lions, tigers, rhinos, giraffe, camels and zebra in the famous drive through Safari Park.
To mark the arrival of the koalas, Longleat is also staging a series of special activities as part of its Australian Summer event (20th July – 2nd September). There will be shows and workshops during the day, culminating in a colourful ‘end of day ‘stomp’, a lively performance featuring dance, music and a chance for visitors to get involved in the show celebrating all things Antipodean.
Longleat Food and Drink Festival 22nd-23rd June.
Sky Safari, the UK’s biggest annual hot air balloon event, from 13th-15th September.
The Great British Autumn 26th October – 3rd November.
The Fireworks Spectacular 25th-26th October and 1st-2nd November.
The hugely popular Festival of Light 9th November to 5th January. This year’s theme is ‘Myths & Legends’.
• For full information on opening times, events, activities, and to buy tickets online, go to www.longleat.co.uk/groups .