Golden wonders: The rare wombats who are so big they're perfect for a cuddle (Photos)

Wombats are one of the rarest animals in Australia. They resemble small bears, and the southern hairy-nosed wombat is more commonly found in brown, black or grey. Experts say that they are shy, timid and live in small groups, while some species, such as the northern hairy-nosed wombat, are endangered due to the destruction of their habitat.

Even more rare is the golden wombat. According to Cleland, Wildlife Park Manager Nalini Klopp, "Golden wombats are virtually unknown in the wild, given their lighter colour makes them susceptible to prey, and we only know of one other in captivity."

In an unusual stroke of fate, one wildlife park has managed to find two golden southern hairy nosed wombats who were rescued within six months of each other. Two 3 year-olds, Icy and Polar, have just gone on public display at Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide, Australia, after arriving from a rescue center where they had been raised. The pair were discovered within six months of each other in 2011. While they are still too young now, it is hoped that these 2 golden wombats may one day be suitable for breeding.

Although southern hairy-nosed wombats are not considered endangered, the golden variety is extremely rare. Ms. Klopp goes onto to say, "While their glossy color comes from a rare gene, we don’t believe Icy and Polar are related. It’s just one of those things. Icy and Polar have spent the first few months of this year acclimatising to their new surroundings and are now happy in their new home. They join the park’s other hairy nosed wombats and common wombat."

Wombats are going through a very difficult time right now in Australia. Experts report that thousands of southern hairy-nosed wombats are suffering 'ghastly' deaths as a result of poor vegetation. Recently a post-mortem of 20 wombats that were found showed that they had died in painful circumstances. Veterinary pathologist Dr Lucy Woolford reported that: 'We are seeing wombats that have died - we find them dead because they are malnourished because they haven't had enough to eat."

The University of Adelaide scientists have warned that, "The problem is that farmers must begin to revegetate land that they do not use for crops to restore the wombat population. Their preferred food source (a native grass) has been diminished and in some areas is non-existent. It's a ghastly death for them - they are dying very slowly because they come out at night and there is nothing for them to eat."

Currently volunteers are working to find out how many of the southern hairy-nosed wombats are left. Meanwhile, the finding of Icy and Polar offers some hope to the future of these endangered animals.

Responses to "Two Rare Golden Wombats found in Australia offer hope for their endangered species"

  1. Anonymous says:

    How cute they are! They look like cuddly lil piggies to me! Never ever seen one in RL b4. When I visited Australia quite a nr of years ago, my introduction to this animal was by seeing the warningsigns by the roadside!

  2. Anonymous says:

    They are such cute lil things.

  3. Christine says:

    I felt sad that as an Australian I had to read an American website to find out that wombats are considered an endangered species and I have never seen or heard of golden wombats I know there are many wombats at places like Wilsons Promontory National Park( southern most point on the Australian mainland) as there are dozens of them roaming happily in the bush and among the campers. Obviously though in some areas of Australia their main food source is being diminished. A real shame but so typical of what is happening all over the world.

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