By BELINDA F SCOTT
THEY came with trucks and trailers, they came with cars and children, they came in wheelchairs and on walkers ? and they carried away Coffs Harbour Zoo.
An auction on Thursday, which attracted hundreds of people to the city's closed zoo, exceeded sales expectations and saw the zoo's cages, enclosures, buildings and even its fences, pavers, pools and landscaping rocks sold to buyers from all over eastern Australia.
The zoo's landmark entrance feature, a family of three concrete koalas, went to Port Macquarie's Billabong Koala Park. Auctioneer Glenn Aylward said the concrete koalas, which had attracted bidders from far away in Queensland, were withdrawn minutes before the auction, when an earlier buyer confirmed his offer shortly before bidding began.
The auction snaked its way around the 5.5ha site for four hours, with a lone koala, two bewildered wombats, a few startled deer and a collection of cottontop tamarind monkeys, watching their homes sold around them as more than 150 registered buyers and as many other interested spectators followed the action.
Zoo project manager Troy Saville said all the animals had new homes, but a few were still waiting to be collected. A condition of sale was that buyers could not collect the enclosures until the animals had left. Bids at the auction ranged from a bid of $14,000 for the zoo's giant walk-through bird aviary, a last-minute addition to the auction, to a winning $5 bid for a lizard enclosure. After failing to reach its reserve, the aviary was later sold to a local buyer.
Buildings, which all have to be demolished, sold from $200 to $2000.