Winnie, Australia's oldest wombat, marks 31st birthday
Advertisement

Winnie, Australia's oldest wombat, marks 31st birthday

While turning 31 might not be the most significant of birthdays, for a certain wombat, it's a very important day.

Winnie the wombat, who is the oldest wombat in Australia, and possibly the world, celebrated her birthday on Saturday at the National Zoo.

The National Zoo and Aquarium's Dr Danielle Johinke hands Winnie the common wombat her favourite treat on her 31st birthday.

The National Zoo and Aquarium's Dr Danielle Johinke hands Winnie the common wombat her favourite treat on her 31st birthday.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

One of the zoo's main attractions, Winnie arrived in 1992.

Team leader of Australian native animals Danielle Johinke said Winnie had been one of the longest-serving residents at the zoo.

Winnie turned 31 on Saturday.

Winnie turned 31 on Saturday.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Advertisement

"Originally she was a rescue wombat and she went on to Birdland at Batemans Bay, and she came to us when she was six," she said.

"She's been here on the site longer than the National Zoo and Aquarium has."

The species normally has a lifespan of about 10 to 15 years in the wild and an average life expectancy of 25 in captivity, making Winnie's age even more remarkable.

"The previous eldest wombat in Australia was Patrick the wombat at Ballarat Wildlife Park and he passed away in April at the age of 31, so the fact that Winnie turned 31 is monumental," Dr Johinke said.

Winnie can reach speeds of up to 40km/h/

Winnie can reach speeds of up to 40km/h/Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Winnie is a common wombat, the smallest of the three species, which can get up to 40 kilograms.

On an average day, Winnie can be found up an about at dawn and running about, before seeking shade and shelter for a sleep during the day.

The wombat is also one of the longest-serving residents at the zoo.

The wombat is also one of the longest-serving residents at the zoo.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

While they may spend a large amount of their day eating and sleeping, Dr Johinke said the wombats possess a large amount of speed.

"She can run about 40km/h on average and they're solitary by nature and quite territorial," she said.

"If she feels threatened, she has the ability to chase you at speed."

While Winnie's actual birthday was on Saturday, the long-lifed wombat celebrated the occasion a day early, with a fruit and vegetable cake made out of some her favourite treats, including lettuce and carrots.

Her enclosure at the zoo was also decorated to mark the day.

As well as being one of the zoo's main attractions, Winnie even has her own Facebook page, which has more than 1200 likes.

Dr Johinke said Winnie's long tenure at the zoo was one of the many reasons why she was adored by visitors.

"As the longest-standing resident at the zoo, she's been here while a lot of progress has been made over the last 20 years," she said.

"She's very well loved and well known, and judging by the Facebook page, she's got lots of fans."

Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.