Gunnedah's new multi-million dollar koala park and education centre could be open next year.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey told the NVI he was "hopeful" construction would start this year to meet the "high demand" for the facility.
The council is seeking an operator for the facility who can contribute towards the overall design and build.
"[We're seeking] a professional, highly qualified partner who not only understands a facility like a koala park but also has the networks in education and tourism through their prior experience," Cr Chaffey said.
"It's great we're seeing interest from big names in zoos and animal keeping, and interest for smaller operations as well."
Cr Chaffey said the purpose of the park was to safeguard the future of the endangered species.
"We want it to have the ability for sick and injured koalas to be taken in and cared for as well," Cr Chaffey said.
"[We will be] picking a partner with the desire to make sure koala conservation is high on the agenda."
Suitable groups involved in wildlife, tourism, animal conservation, education or research are encouraged to submit an expression of interest via www.tenderlink.com or by contacting the council on 6740 2100.