This Koala Had an Entire Row to Himself on a Flight to Scotland

Aug 14, 2018

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You may have encountered dogs, cats and possibly even pigs (we said possibly) flying in the cabin during your travels. But have you ever received a seat assignment next to a koala?

On the evening of Aug. 9, Tanami, a 19-month-old koala, boarded a Eurowings A320 for his 700-mile trip from Dusseldorf, Germany (DUS) to Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI).

Tanami, a Queensland koala, was headed to his new habitat at the Edinburgh Zoo as part of a conservation breeding program. He will be one of only three koalas in the UK — so the little fella’s safety took top priority.

As a result, Tanami didn’t travel in the cargo hold like the four koalas who flew with Qantas from Brisbane (BNE) to Singapore (SIN) in 2015 — nor did he find himself squished in the dreaded middle seat. Instead, Tanami had an entire row to himself: about as close as a koala can come to inflight luxury without flying business or first class.

Photos taken of Tanami’s travels show him seated onboard in his carrier, munching on eucalyptus leaves.

In a statement, Darren McGarry, Edinburgh Zoo’s head of living collections, said that koalas are particularly sensitive animals, and “special care needs to be taken when transporting them.” Hence, Tanami’s VIP-treatment in the cabin.

By traveling in the cabin, McGarry explained, Tanami’s keepers “[could] easily make sure everything [was] OK during the flight.”

According to Gordon Dewar, EDI’s chief executive, Tanami was an A-lister at the airport, too. “We welcome passengers from all over the world to Edinburgh Airport,” Dewar said. “But not all of them are as special or as cute as a koala.”

If having a koala as a seatmate sounds like a dream, you may be in luck. Tanami is swapping homes with Toorie, a young male koala from Edinburgh Zoo. Toorie is moving into Germany’s Duisburg Zoo (less than 30 minutes from the airport) this week, so if DUS is on your travel itinerary, watch out for a jetsetting koala snacking on eucalyptus during snack service.

And according to McGarry, Tanami is already feeling right at home in Scotland. “It’s great to see [him] settling in well and enjoying his new surroundings.”

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