Friday, July 18, 2008

Wombat Cuddles & More

Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary was an Aussie trip highlight for me. Located in Tasmania, the sanctuary was the location of "Growing Up Marsupial," an episode in the Animal Planet series on babies being raised. It featured two Tasmanian devils, a wombat and a quoll. I was looking forward to getting to see the sanctuary and get up close to some of the animals there.

I had a chance to cuddle an eighteen month old baby wombat being hand raised due to her mother being killed by a car. Trowunna rehabilitates animals like these and then releases them into the wild gradually. It appears that they do very well, but to my surprise, no one has funded a study to determine how long they survive or how far they range or how well they do. Basically they raise them, teach them, and leave the gate open and eventually the little guys wander out - much like they'd leave mom eventually in the wild. Sometimes they come back and say hi.

Wombats are super cuddly and they love to be held nice and tight. They also follow you almost touching your feet as you walk, as that is how they stay connected to mom in the wild. Here's me holding her, and then a close up of her face as she is napping. I could have held her all day! What a treat to raise such babies.

Also at Trowunna I got to pet a koala, and even more exciting, a Tasmanian devil! One of the keepers held a growly little female devil he had raised and I got to pet her and see her pouch up close. That was fascinating! There were also many happy kangaroos and wallabies to pet and interact with.

The sanctuary spends it's resources on the animals, not on marketing or posters or uniforms. It's what I think a sanctuary should be. They do good work, pioneering in fact, on devil reproduction and have a high success rate. It's cool - to breed, they let the female devil chose the male by having the males in enclosures and she can press a button to open the door of the one she wants to go into! The devils here look happy and healthy, and enjoy each other in captivity though they would live alone in the wild. (Interesting that they take comfort in their own kind in captivity).

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Trowunna, I could have stayed longer, and I look forward to going back someday. Recommended if you are in Tasmania!

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