19 September 2022

Fur the love of it: Wagga Zoo delights in baby boom

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Dingo puppy and baby wombat

Wagga Zoo’s family has expanded with the arrival of dingo puppies and baby wombats. Photo: Wagga Zoo & Aviary.

Wagga Wagga Zoo & Aviary has welcomed four new fur babies to its family, with two dingo puppies and two baby wombats the adorable additions.

The zoo said the babies had been settling into their new home and relishing the constant care from staff.

Meet Gus and Madeline.

Two women with baby wombats

Wagga Zoo curator Wendy McNamara and zookeeper Brooke Caines with baby wombats Gus and Madeline. Photo: Wagga Zoo & Aviary.

Gus is about 10 months old and weighs around 4 kilograms.

Madeline is about seven months old and weighs around 2.5 kg.

The fur babies are eating plenty of grass, hay and pellets as well as being bottle-fed a special formula for native Australian animals four times a day.

Gus and Madeline will be on formula until they each reach about 10 kg.

The baby wombats have bonded quickly and have become best friends.

Zoo curator Wendy McNamara said the baby wombats “play-fight a bit, but they’re very bonded”.

“Gus is my cuddle-bug and Madeline just wants to take on the world,” Ms McNamara said.

She said over the school holidays the baby wombats would spend supervised time in their enclosure between 10 am and noon daily, weather permitting.

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“Being babies, they still need their time out with lots of rest and sleep,” Ms McNamara said.

A wildlife rescue organisation donated orphaned Gus and Madeline to the Wagga Zoo in August.

Ms McNamara said the donation was prompted, in part, by a declining number of safe release sites for rescued wombats.

“Wombats in the wild are struggling, with many burrows destroyed by floods, and wombat populations affected by mange,” she said.

“So we’re very happy to be able to take care of these two precious animals and give them a safe home.”

Meet Zeke and Diego.

Zoo Curator Wendy McNamara and Zoo Keeper Brooke Caines with Zeke and Diego

Ms Caines and Ms McNamara show off Zeke and Diego. Photo: Wagga Zoo & Aviary.

Zeke and Diego are 12-week-old male dingo puppies.

They are fed a mix of high-quality puppy food and bones.

Zeke and Diego enjoy exploring their new enclosure and working with a new animal trainer.

The puppies were acquired from the Australian Dingo Foundation with funding from Wagga Friends of the Botanic Gardens.

Ms McNamara said the puppies were chosen to expand the zoo’s collection of Australian native animals.

“We didn’t have any carnivores, and it’s a great opportunity to educate people on Australia’s wild dogs,” she said.

Ms McNamara said Zeke and Diego were highly intelligent.

“We’re spending a lot of time working on their socialisation and obedience training to ensure they’re friendly, well adjusted and non-aggressive,” she said.

“They’re getting lots of exercise and stimulation, and we’ll be out walking them around the zoo and the gardens.

“If you see one of the zookeepers walking Zeke or Diego, just ask if you can approach, as they’re not like a domestic dog.”

The zoo team took a year to construct and landscape Zeke and Diego’s new daytime enclosure.

Their new home features two dens joined by a tunnel beneath a central mound.

The mound is covered in large rocks so Zeke and Diego can follow their natural inclination to climb to observe their surroundings. The enclosure also features a pond.

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The zoo said to ensure everyone’s safety, the enclosure had specially designed fences, built to the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ specifications, and mesh that stops the animals from digging out of their enclosure.

Visitors are strongly encouraged to stay behind the chain-link fencing on both sides of the enclosure.

Zookeepers will relocate the dingoes each evening to their secure night-time enclosure.

Visitors will be able to meet the new wombats and dingoes during the school holidays.

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