7 May 2013
All animals at Australia Zoo are special but one wombat, Dozer, was like a very dear family member. We remember this special girl who passed away from old age in 2012.
An orphaned joey, Dozer was born in 1995, taken into care and hand raised. She was one of two breeding females that Australia Zoo acquired in 2001 for our open-exhibit wombat enclosure. Housed with the other female Minibus and a strapping young resident male Chisel, it wasn't long before sparks flew between Dozer and Chisel and a successful mating occurred. On November 24, 2003 Kato was her first baby and two years later to the day, she gave birth to her second offspring, Tonka.
The Common Wombat Enclosure at Australia Zoo is believed to be the largest exhibit of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It certainly makes for a happy group of wombats. Wombats are naturally solitary in the wild, so having a large space to reside in allows our wombats to find plenty of their own space. The large grass exhibit also includes a big sandpit to dig in, air-conditioned dens and plenty of spots to snooze in the warmer hours of the day.
Dozer's day always started at an easy pace, usually waking from her slumber in the early hours of the morning and spending her first half hour scratching her backside on the nearest rock or log. After being greeted by her keepers she would take a wonder through her enclosure checking out anything new and interesting. There'd be a toilet stop then she'd begin her morning graze.
'Smoko time' for our wombats is usually the same time each day, and being the intelligent animal she was, Dozer would be ready and waiting before her food was even prepared! During the warmer hours of the day, Dozer snoozed in the shade or in the display den. Lunchtime included pats from guests as well as yummy veggies and pellets.
Her favourite part of the day was going bed. She would sit and wait for her comfortable bedding to be prepared by a doting keeper. Once that blanket was put down for her, then, and only then would she put herself to bed. One of our fondest memories is watching Dozer manipulate the blanket with her paws to get herself comfy for the night. Sometimes this would involve cocooning herself under the blanket completely.
Wombats are the smartest of the marsupial family and are full of character, they recognize their keepers and can easily form a strong bond with those who show them kindness and understanding. It's unknown why some individuals pull on your heartstrings more than others, but Dozer consumed ours. She was strong, stubborn, and feisty at times, yet very gentle and affectionate at others.
She touched the hearts of everyone who worked with her, and she is dearly missed by all of us.
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This article featured in issue #24 (Summer 2012) of our very own Crikey! Magazine. To receive the latest Crikey! Mag in your mail you can subscribe now, or you can buy individual Crikey! Mags or back issues. Check out our preview of the latest issue.