On May 15, a male Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat was born at the L.A. Zoo to first-time parents, Olga and Murray.
The joey spent several important months safely tucked away in Olga’s pouch, but he’s now emerged and can occasionally be seen on-exhibit in the ‘nocturnal house’ of the zoo’s Australia Habitat.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) is the smallest of the three species of wombats. It is found in areas from the eastern Nullarbor Plain to the New South Wales border area. The species is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
The species feeds primarily on select native perennial grasses and sedges, but they will consume introduced pasture species, forbs, and the leaves of woody shrubs if needed. The teeth of the wombat are very effective in grinding food into small particles.
The gestation period of the wombat lasts 22 days, and most births occur in October. When a young is born, it climbs into the mother’s pouch and clings to a teat. It will stay in the pouch for six months and grow to around 0.45 kg. Because wombats are natural burrowers, a mother’s pouch faces backwards so that she can dig without getting dirt into her joey’s home.
The joey will emerge from the pouch at around six months and begin grazing at the surface. The young is fully weaned when it is a year old and reaches full size at the age of three years.
The L.A. Zoo is one of only four in the country that take care of wombats, making their new little family one-third of the population of wombats in U.S. zoos!