| || || ||February 26, 2009
| ||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Note: Images of the wombat joey and its mom may be downloaded at our photo download page.
Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Joey Out and About at Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield, Ill.--Guests visiting Brookfield Zoo's Australia House may be lucky to get a view of the zoo's newest resident--a southern hairy-nosed wombat joey. Video of the joey is also available on the Chicago Zoological Society's web site, at www.CZS.org.
The not-yet-named joey was born July 8, 2008, to 8-year-old Kambora, who was born at San Diego Zoo. However, zookeepers were only recently able to get a good look at the youngster, which they suspect is a female, because, like all marsupials, wombat joeys develop in the pouch following a gestation period of approximately 21 days. Immediately after birth, the tiny joey--which was about the size of a bumblebee--crawled into Kambora's pouch, where it has been sleeping and nursing to get all the necessary nutrients it needs to fully develop.
Newborn animals, in general, are notoriously hard to see, often clinging tightly to their moms. But few animals hide as well as the wombat joey. Although the juvenile is quite precocious and is beginning to explore its new surroundings, it still spends the majority of her time in momíŽs pouch. This April, when it is 9 months old, the joey will be ready to leave the pouch permanently and guests will be able to see it on a more daily basis. In the meantime, even if it is not out and about, guests could catch a glimpse of its head or a limb poking out of the pouch or possibly see the outline of the joey wiggling around inside.
In 1974, Brookfield Zoo was home to the first southern hairy-nosed wombat born outside of Australia. Since then, there have been 14 successful wombat births at the zoo. Currently, Brookfield Zoo is one of only four zoos in North America to exhibit southern hairy-nosed wombats and is home to four individuals (half the North America population), including the joey's sire, Carver, who was born at Brookfield Zoo in 1975 and just celebrated his 34th birthday. According to published documents on wombats, he holds the longevity record for his species. Considered to be a geriatric animal, Carver has needed some special care. He has been treated for arthritis and a common type of skin cancer. In addition, Kambora and Carver's other offspring, 2-year-old Goldie, is also on exhibit.
Wombats are thick, heavy-bodied animals that live in underground tunnel systems. Everything about them is compact. They are about the size of a medium-size dog but are much more rounded and solidly built. Their soft fur is gray to brown, with a small patch of white around the furry snout that gives them their name. Wombats have a little, short tail and a flattened head that looks too big for their body.
Wombats live in complex tunnel systems called warrens, each of which has multiple entrances. Their shoulders and forearms are powerful, and they have long claws, all of which they use when digging. Five to 10 wombats live together in a warren, often with an equal ratio of males to females.
There are few animals that are better adapted to life on the grasslands and plains of central South Australia. The squat-bodied southern hairy-nosed wombats munch on tough, coarse vegetation. A wombat's teeth continue to grow throughout its life to accommodate strenuous chewing. And its digestive system makes efficient use of the vegetation, helping the animal survive periods when food is scarce.
Celebrating its 75th year, the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For more information, visit www.CZS.org.
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