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There is a lot to “dig” about these stoutly packed marsupials

These claws were made for diggin'

(and that's just what they'll do)

Wombats like to dig, and they’re good at it. That’s why there is a chain link fence underneath the ABQ BioPark Zoo’s wombat exhibits.

These nocturnal marsupials dig tunnels that lead to burrows—they sleep inside the burrows during the day to avoid high afternoon temperatures. There is no need for burrow building at the zoo, however—male Otto and female Womona have access to a chilled indoor facility on toasty days. Nonetheless, the two still have the instinct to dig (not to mention claws made just for that), and that’s where the fencing comes in—the zoo wants to ensure that this natural behavior doesn’t assist in an escape.

Womona and Otto currently live in separate yards—the species is solitary and extremely territorial, so it’s difficult to house two together. The zoo would love to breed Otto and Womona, but because of the species’ territorial nature coupled with a short window of fertility for females—they only cycle for 14 hours at a time—this could be a challenge.

The quieter of the two, Otto has a penchant for stuffed animals. Visitors may notice teddy bears inside his habitat. This fondness for fuzzies is a relic of his past—both he and Womona were hand-raised orphans and he’s always had a “baby.” Zoo docents help provide Otto with a steady supply of teddy bears.

Wombats are grazers, so staff feed them several times throughout the day to encourage their natural behaviors. Some of their menu items include kangaroo chow, sweet potatoes and carrots, hay, grasses and bamboo. Zookeepers periodically supply the two with other fruits and vegetables as enrichment.

Wombats are the closest living relative to the koala, and Womona and Otto sometimes get leftover eucalyptus leaves from Luke, the ABQ BioPark’s resident koala.

Did you know?

  • While they may look slow, wombats can bolt as fast as an Olympic sprinter.
  • Wombat excrement is shaped like cubes.
  • Wombats have an extremely slow metabolism and it can take up to two weeks to digest a meal.