Island koalas brought to SA mainland

A colony of rescued Kangaroo Island Koalas will be nurtured back to health by experts

Twenty-eight koalas have been transferred from bushfire-ravaged Kangaroo Island to establish a disease-free colony on the South Australian mainland.

The koalas will be housed at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills where special enclosures have been built.

Kangaroo Island koalas are free of chlamydia and have a low rate of an AIDS-like disease which is widespread among the state's mainland populations.

Usually, koalas taken from Kangaroo Island can't be returned because of the risk of introducing these diseases.

But with large amounts of wildlife habitats destroyed, the government has taken special steps to ensure they remain healthy and to potentially allow their offspring to be released into the wild.

"The koalas came from the western end of the island, where most, if not all, of their habitat has been lost in the recent bushfires," Environment Minister Davie Speirs said.

"These rescued koalas will be nurtured back to health by experts and will be housed at Cleland Wildlife Park as the disease-free population."

Mr Speirs said the rescued koalas would also further the understanding of the debilitating diseases plaguing koala populations Australia-wide.

"Their offspring may become part of a rewilding program in future years," he said.