Wombat family warmly welcomes roly-poly joey
An adorably chubby Southern hairy-nosed wombat joey is waddling about at Melbourne Zoo after emerging from its mum’s pouch.
The female joey named Alkira – meaning “bright and sunny” in Woi Wurrung language – is napping, suckling and exploring close by to first-time mum, Whitney.
Melbourne Zoo native mammals keeper Erin Myers said the wombat joey was the first to be born at Melbourne Zoo since 2015, which was a major conservation win for the Australian-native threatened species.
“Like all wombat joeys, Alkira was born as a tiny pink jellybean and has been growing and suckling in mum’s pouch for the past nine months,” Ms Myers said.
“She has just come out of the pouch – which is uniquely backwards-facing to keep dirt out while mum burrows – so now zoo visitors can see her wandering around the burrow.”
Alkira joins five other Southern hairy-nosed wombats who live, eat and sleep together at Melbourne Zoo in a social burrow network that is unique to their species. This includes new father, Kipp, who arrived from South Australia’s Monarto Zoo in 2020 as part of a breeding program.
Ms Myers said the furry joey would continue to grow and stick close by to mum until she was fully weaned at 12 to 16 months of age, so visitors have plenty of time to see her while she is still small.
“Alkira is such a beautiful joey and we’re excited for visitors to see her grow and become more independent and confident,” Ms Myers said. “In the next few months, she will begin to dig and forage on her own which will be wonderful to see.”
Southern hairy-nosed wombats are listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are native to South Australia and the southern parts of Western Australia but are in decline due to habitat destruction and car strikes.
Zoos Victoria is part of a regional breeding program for the Southern hairy-nosed wombat to ensure a long-term future for this precious Australian-native species.
Melbourne Zoo visitors are reminded that all tickets must be pre-booked online at zoo.org.au •