Thursday, 9 July 2015

Australian zookeepers take overweight wombats for walks

Queensland’s Rockhampton Zoo take their wombats on walks like a dog which they said the animals were "loving"

By Flynn Murphy, Sydney

7:01AM BST 09 Jul 2015

Keepers at Queensland’s Rockhampton Zoo are amazed by how quickly their wombats have adapted to a new exercise regime which involves walking them like dogs.

The programme started as a way for Donna, an overweight 20-year-old southern hairy nosed wombat, to shed some pounds and take the pressure off a damaged hip.
There are only 200 northern hairy nosed wombats left in the wild (Rockhampton Zoo)

But now around six of the zoo’s 12 “southerns” have adapted to daily harness walks – though they are often the ones that lead.

"They are loving it,” said Yvette Fenning, the zoo’s team leader.

Exercise is an ideal way to keep wombats in shape.

At 70.5lb (32kg), Donna is 4-7lb overweight. She was one of 25 “southerns” saved by the zoo from an industrial development in south Australia in 2000.

“She’s quite a lazy wombat … we’ve tried putting her food bowl at the other end of her den, but decided we needed to be more proactive,” explained Ms Fenning, who is five weeks from completing a masters project on wombat husbandry.

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