Supporting the efforts of the Threatened Species Conservation Programme, TAP has flown a Koala bear from Paris to its new home at Lisbon Zoo.  

Flying onboard flight TP0439 from the French capital, ‘Gowi Nee Bu’ was in a special transport cage, prepared with a log of wood to be able to hold on to, in Economy Class, spending time with his fellow passengers and a special handler on one of TAP’s A320neo aircraft. 

Passengers and cabin crew could hardly take their eyes off of two-year-old Gowi Nee Bu during the two-hour 30-minute flight as the furry marsupial took in his new surroundings.  

His onboard caretaker and cabin crew catered to his every need during the trip to Lisbon, ensuring he felt right at home at 38,000 feet. All customers were informed about the airline’s special guest and about the protected species protection programme, which met with applause from passengers on the flight. 

The Portuguese carrier has supported the successful repatriation efforts of many exotic animals over the years, rehoming endangered and recovering animals to a range of destinations across its vast network. 

Ricardo Dinis, TAP Country Manager for the UK & Ireland, said: “We couldn’t bear not to help this endangered species and were delighted to fly Gowi Nee Bu in style on a koala-ty flight with TAP to his new home at Lisbon. Every customer is special to us, so we took care to ensure this little koala bear had a stress-free flight, as we know they are sensitive animals unable to fly in an aircraft’s hold and needed to travel in the comfort of our spacious cabin and close to their handler to look after his welfare while in the air.” 

Gowi Nee Bu was flown from France to Portugal as he was compatible with a female koala from the zoo in Lisbon for mating purposes. The aim is for offspring to be released into their natural habitat in Australia. 

With his Aboriginal origin name, Gowi Nee Bu, can sleep up to 20 hours a day, making his flight with TAP a snooze in the sky as the aircraft winged its way to Lisbon.  

As natives to Australia, Koalas usually like to spend their time resting in the fork of a smooth barked Gum Tree, making Gowi Nee Bu’s trip with TAP far from the ordinary 

Unfortunately, due to deforestation, and other habitat hindering activity, the Koala population is declining, which is why TAP was so keen to play its part in repatriating Gowi Nee Bu. 

TAP is an established partner of Lisbon Zoo, transporting numerous animals every year and specialises in looking after the particular needs of each species. 

Lisbon Zoo has looked after koalas since 1991 and was one of the first zoos in Europe to provide them with a home with the goal of strengthening their population numbers. 

The exchange of animals happens under the Threatened Species Conservation Programme and has the long-term goal of maintaining a genetically healthy population, and for the potential of reintroducing the animals to their natural habitats when the time is right. TAP Air Cargo strictly complies with all the requirements of the IATA Regulation on the Transport of Live Animals by Air and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.