It’s hard to imagine a tougher start for a southern hairy-nosed wombat joey. This little one ended up away from the warmth and safety of mother’s pouch on a cold December morning in 2002. When keepers discovered the baby on the floor of her mom’s enclosure, her body temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, below normal, and the prognosis was grim. Hypothermia led to a severe case of pneumonia, a condition necessitating intensive medical treatment.
But the tiny joey pulled through. Not only did she survive, she thrived, maintaining a sweet and affectionate nature as she grew. Keepers named her Tangara, which means “a long journey” in an Australian Aboriginal language, and after three months, it seemed as though the difficult leg of her journey was over.
But then Tangara hit another rough patch—a sudden bout of weakness and lethargy. A battery of medical tests revealed a potentially life-threatening heart condition. Her keepers were devastated; Tangara was prescribed another period of intensive care. The feisty little wombat once again beat the odds with her unrelenting determination to survive—she recovered completely from her ailments. Tangara’s journey was long one, but she completed it, one little furry step at a time.