Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chloe the hand-reared wombat learns some wild skills

Chloe the wombat joey is learning to walk and dig burrows. Wombat joeys follow their mothers around for about two years. Image courtesy Paul Fahey at Taronga Zoo (beautiful photos, Paul!).
A few months ago SAT covered the plight of Chloe, a wombat joey rescued from her deceased mother’s pouch by a good Samaritan. She’s being cared for by staff at Taronga Zoo, and – we’re told – loving doing the morning rounds with keeper Evelyn Weston.

Chloe with Evelyn. Image courtesy Paul Fahey at Taronga Zoo.
As Evelyn cleans exhibits and prepares breakfast for some of the zoo’s residents, nine-month-old Chloe follows her around.

Of course wombat mothers don't have awesome hiking boots to nibble on. But Chloe is an opportunist. Image courtesy Paul Fahey at Taronga Zoo.
“It’s a natural behaviour and something Chloe would be doing with her real mother if she’d survived. Wombats stay with their mothers for up to two years, walking by their side until they’re old enough to fend for themselves,” said Evelyn.

Chloe "helps" on rounds. Image courtesy Paul Fahey at Taronga Zoo.
Chloe can now walk and explore without assistance, so keepers have built her an off-exhibit home where she can dig burrows and forage for food.

“She’s really learning how to be a wombat. Her paws are already toughening up and she’s quite happy digging about on her own,” said Evelyn.

I would do more gardening if I had a helper like this. Image courtesy Paul Fahey at Taronga Zoo.
The plan is to transfer Chloe, when she is ready, to a soft-release site where she can learn to survive in the wild before her official release.

Chloe checks out a seed pod. Image courtesy Paul Fahey at Taronga Zoo.
Meanwhile for those seeking up update on Hero, it is day 4 post-op and he is improving and weeing regularly without crying. Keeping him entertained is becoming increasingly challenging. While I was giving the guinea pigs a run this morning he tried to slip out and sneak in a bit of climbing. Fortunately I caught him before he had a chance to injure himself.