Zookeepers at Copenhagen Zoo got an early Christmas present when they last week discovered one of their female Tasmanian wombats is carrying a joey, a baby wombat, in her pouch.
“With so few of the species living outside Tasmania, each birth is a bit of a sensation,” the zoo’s curator, Flemming Nielsen, told Metroxpress.
There are only 11 Tasmanian wombats in Europe, divided between three zoos.
“Females are in oestrus [the most fertile days of their reproductive cycle] approximately every six weeks, but when they don’t show clear signs, it can be difficult to detect and ensure they are joined by the males at the right time,” explained Nielsen.
The size of a bean
The news from Copenhagen Zoo is even more notable because the pregnant wombat is only two years old, which means that she has just reached the age when she can have babies.
After a 20-22 days of the gestation period, the baby wombat, called a joey, crawls into its mother’s pouch and attaches itself to one of the mother’s teats.
At that point it has the size of a bean and weighs about two grams.
It will stay in the pouch nursing and developing for about eight months before it leaves to tentatively explore the world.
Copenhagen Zoo owns two male and two female wombats, which are kept at the zoo’s newest facility, the ‘Tasmania’ enclosure.