TORONTO – How do you get two wombats to fall in love?
This is the question keepers at the Toronto Zoo are asking themselves after welcoming two bundles of joy, hairynosed wombats Arthur and Millie, into their family on Thursday. Keepers are hoping that one day the pair might welcome their own little bundles of joy.
The 18-month old orphaned wombats were transferred from Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, which serves as a clearing house for all imported wombats, after their mothers were killed in South Australia.
“We are delighted to welcome Millie and Arthur into the Zoo family and look forward to the possibility of infant hairy-nosed wombats to boost the North American captive population,” said Dr. William Rapley, Zoo Executive Director of Conservation, Education and Wildlife in a press release.
Their arrival at Toronto Zoo marks the first time their species has been transferred into North America in several decades, part of an initiative with Zoos South Australia to ensure a sustainable future of the population.
Zookeeper’s hope that Arthur and Millie will eventually mate and have babies of their own, adding to the North American population of hairynosed wombats. Currently Arthur and Millie make up two of only nine of their species living in North American zoos.
The hairynosed wombat population is facing many dangers in their native home of Australia.
Wombats use their claws to dig tunnels to live in, called burrows, in open grasslands and eucalyptus forests. According to National Geographic, wombats are nocturnal and emerge from their underground homes at night to feed on grass, roots and bark.
The Australian population of hairynosed wombats is in danger due to habitat loss, drought and agricultural practices.
Arthur and Millie will live alongside the zoo’s 30-year-old wombat named Hamlet in the Australian exhibit. However, wombats are known to be fairly anti-social – mostly keeping to themselves. It is unknown if this will affect the chances of Arthur and Millie mating.