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Friday 10 October 2014

Wombat Encounter

5 cute wombats.

Location: Beerwah, Queensland, Australia
Address: 1638 Steve Irwin Way
Date: May 2012
Website:  www.australiazoo.com.au/our-animals/animal-encounters

  Few things have brought us more joy than our wombat encounter at the Australia Zoo.  We still can't look at these pictures without a huge smile on our faces.  The Australia Zoo is located about an hour's drive outside of Brisbane and offers many special animal encounters.  We have always had a soft spot for wombats since seeing our first one at the Toronto Zoo.  For about 40 dollars each we had the chance to spend half an hour inside the wombat enclosure, up close and personal with our 5 newest friends.

How nice of you to join me for lunch.

  It is always surprising that more people are not familiar with wombats.  Everyone you meet knows about koalas, but not their close cousin the wombat.  Both animals are marsupials and only found in Australia.  Marsupials carry their young in pouches and both the koala and wombat have backwards facing pouches.  This is useful for the wombat which spends a great deal of time digging in the ground and would not want to fill its pouch up with dirt in the process.  Both animals also have hardened backsides of cartilage.  The koala uses it to sit comfortably high up in the trees, but the wombat uses it for protection.  If a predator, like a dingo, attacks a wombat, it will dive into its burrow filling the opening with it's behind.  The dingo will be unable to get a grip on anything to pull the wombat out. In fact, often the wombat will allow a small opening over its back and when the dingo reaches further inside it will use its hardened backside to crush the dingo's head against the roof of its burrow.  The final thing koalas and wombats have in common is that they are both adorable.

A couple of wom-butts.

  We were drawn to the wombats because they are so cute, but we had to be wary as they can also be aggressive and could easily charge and bowl one of us over.  They are almost like tough little bulldogs.  When we were at the Cairns Tropical Zoo one of the keepers told us that just the day before a female wombat had attacked another keeper and she required stitches from her wounds.  The Australia Zoo staff told us that we could only approach the wombats from behind and only while they were eating.  Once they had finished eating we would have to leave.

Pat a wombat.

  Five bowls were placed in a row in the middle of the wombat enclosure and each wombat took their position behind one of the bowls.  It was then that we were instructed that we could touch the wombats.  We hopped from wom-butt to wom-butt and back again stroking their fur.  All the while the wombats munched away.  We even had the opportunity to lay down on the grass with one arm around a wombat and have our pictures taken.  Then we went back to running from butt to butt, giddy with delight.

A Southern hairy-nosed wombat poses for a photo.

  There are three types of wombats: Common, Southern hairy-nosed and Northern hairy-nosed.  The Northern hairy-nosed wombat is the most endangered.  The Southern hairy-nosed and Common are, well, more common.  The Australia Zoo had 5 wombats that we are now on a first name basis with.   They are Laura and Meg the Southern hairy-nosed wombats and Minibus, Tonka, and Wendy the Common wombats.  In the photo above, one of the Southern hairy-nosed wombats is facing us.  In the picture below, a Common wombat is enjoying its meal.  The Southern hairy-nosed wombats have a thicker, softer fur, while the Common has a shorter, coarser fur.  Trust us we checked them all.

I might be Common, but I'm special.

   Once our wombat experience was over we still could not get enough, so we continued to watch the wombats from outside of their enclosure.  If you ever get the chance we highly recommend this experience.  If you are still not convinced, watch the video below and try not to fall in love.

Map of Our World
Australia Zoo (Wombat Encounter)

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