Wildlife advocates call for ban on koala rental

The Australian Reptile Park off the coast of Australia in New South Wales has been in the crosshairs of wildlife organizations since January, renting koalas for thousands of dollars an hour to events, hotels and families to “impress guests” with a small wallet.

In January, koalas were given critically endangered status in three Australian states, including New South Wales, where the number of local preserves is dangerously dwindling due to shrinking habitat and catastrophic bushfires.

Koalas are known to be very stressed if they find themselves in an unusual situation – hotel rooms and private homes – the online edition of The Guardian wrote on Tuesday.

On January 4, a site called Koalas to Your Room was announced on the reptile park portal. They wrote on the page: “Your friendly caregivers will come with a koala or other domestic animal so you can enjoy the animals in the comfort and convenience of your hotel room or home.” The ad, which has since been removed, asked for $2,000 (670,000 fort) an hour to rent an animal.

At a state budget meeting on Tuesday, a Green Party MP asked the environment minister what measures he had taken to end the “terrible practice”. James Griffin said they contacted the park, which no longer offers such a service.

The minister made it clear that Sydney’s Taronga Zoo does not engage in such practices and they look after their koalas to the “highest standard”.

The New South Wales government is studying whether there is a need to amend the law to ban the rental of koalas. A previous government investigation found that koalas in New South Wales could become extinct by 2050 without rapid intervention.

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OPENING PHOTO: Dallas and John Heaton/Getty Images

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