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Katherine the Koala boards flight from L.A. to Fort Lauderdale to meet her mate

Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 18:26:01-04

Possibly the greatest love story to come around the Palm Beaches in a long time. The Palm Beach Zoo purchased Katherine the Koala a seat on a Southwest Airlines Tuesday and flew her from Los Angeles, California to Fort Lauderdale. The goal is to meet Oz, her potential mate.

"If this is online dating, we are hoping these two are a match," wished Naki Carter, PR Director for the zoo. The zoo is hoping Katherine will "swipe right" and start a courtship with Oz.

"Katherine is coming to us on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation," said Nancy Nill, the zoo's associate curator. "We are excited to welcome her to our family." 

The flight was eventful. Fellow passengers and flight crew received Koala swag bags.

"She was a little nervous during the first portion of the flight, by the second leg, she was a pro," explained Kevin Gorowski, the animal keeper who traveled with Katherine from Los Angeles. 

Katherine has gone straight to quarantine. "Guests will be able to see her during this time; this is a first in the history of our Zoo," explained Nancy. Zoo staff likens the quarantine period to a child changing schools, an adjustment period that can be stressful. "We take the quarantine period very seriously; there are signs informing guests that they will see zoo staff entering the area with Katherine in masks and protective clothing."

Koalas are notoriously picky eaters who consume an exclusive diet of eucalyptus. With the addition of Katherine, Palm Beach Zoo says it will require around 175 pounds of eucalyptus a week, at the cost of around $60,000 a year to feed the pair. 

Palm Beach Zoo encourages the public to follow the match making love story by following its social media accounts and monitor the #KoalaCoast2Coast hashtag for updates.

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