End of an Era: No More Koala Cuddles at Lone Pine Sanctuary

Lone Pine Sanctuary
Photo Credit: Supplied

For decades, famous people like One Direction, Janet Jackson, Roger Federer, and Pope John Paul II have visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket for a hands-on encounter with its famed koalas. Effective immediately, however, the wildlife facility has decided to put an end to koala holds and transition to more educational wildlife encounters.



Responding to visitor feedback calling for more in-depth and educational interactions with the wildlife, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has ended koala holds as of 1 July 2024 and  is set to introduce a new “Koala Close-Up” experience starting 1 September 1 2024. This initiative aims to allow guests to spend more time observing koalas in their natural behaviours, focusing on education over physical interaction.

“Our visitors are increasingly seeking experiences where they can observe our wildlife naturally, without direct contact,” said Lyndon Discombe, the sanctuary’s general manager. “This shift allows us to meet those expectations while fostering a deeper appreciation for koalas and their natural habits.”

Lone Pine Sanctuary
Photo Credit: Supplied

Enhanced Educational Programs

The sanctuary will continue to offer “Koala Moments” and the “Koala Discovery Tour,” designed to educate visitors on koala behaviour, ecology, and care. These programs are tailored to ensure that all interactions are respectful and educational, enhancing visitors’ understanding and appreciation of the species.

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“We aim to inspire respect and love for koalas by allowing our guests to see them up close in their natural environment,” added Mr Discombe.

Lone Pine Sanctuary
Photo Credit: Supplied

The Zoo & Aquarium Association (ZAA) Australasia supports Lone Pine’s new educational direction, emphasizing that it aligns with conservation education goals and the need for meaningful wildlife experiences.

Adhering to the highest animal welfare standards, Lone Pine’s interactions are guided by the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and the ZAA’s guidelines, ensuring all wildlife presentations are respectful and beneficial to both animals and visitors.

Famous Koala Cuddles

Historical Significance and Future Directions

Since opening in 1927, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has grown into a global icon for wildlife conservation. The sanctuary continues to evolve, adding facilities like the Brisbane Koala Science Institute and a nocturnal precinct to enhance educational offerings and conservation efforts.

As Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary phases out koala holds, it reinforces its commitment to providing enriching educational experiences that foster deeper connections between visitors and wildlife. This marks a new chapter in the sanctuary’s history, continuing to be a leading institution in wildlife conservation and education.



Visitors can find more information or book experiences by visiting the sanctuary’s website or exploring the facility at 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket.