You may have already heard: The Houston Zoo will soon be home to wombats! Two of our wonderful employees Ali and Kevin are in Australia right now learning lots of information about wombats. Here’s our latest communication with Ali.
Greetings from Australia! Kevin and I arrived at Healesville Sanctuary, outside of Melbourne, yesterday afternoon to start learning how to take care of wombats. We met the two wombats who will be coming to Houston, Lilly and Lullaby, as well as several other resident wombats. Lilly and Lullaby definitely have their own distinct personalities! Lilly still acts somewhat like a young wombat and is very playful and inquisitive. Lullaby is all grown up, she is three months older after all, and prefers to observe from a distance and only approach when she’s a little more sure of you.
Lilly and Lullaby, like all the wombats at the sanctuary, were orphaned when their mom was hit by a car. This is a fairly common occurrence in Australia since wombats are nocturnal and fairly slow moving. Wombats have a bony plate under the skin covering their rump that they use to protect themselves while in their burrows and this plate also protects the young that are still in the pouch. For this reason the babies will often survive when the mother is hit by a car. The babies are usually placed with wildlife rehabilitators to be raised and released. However, occasionally they are un-releasable for one reason or another and that’s where Healesville Sanctuary comes in.
The keepers at Healesville will raise the un-releasable babies (even taking them home with them at night when they’re very young) and then place them in zoos in Australia and abroad. Needless to say, the keepers become very attached to the wombats and they will be sad to see Lilly and Lullaby leave but we’ve told them they’re welcome to visit anytime! Check back later in the week for another update from down under!