Please Enjoy This Footage Of Wombats As You've Never Seen Them Before
The founder of a wombat sanctuary has taken to social media to debunk stereotypes about the marsupial, amid fears their population is rapidly declining.
Brigitte Stevens launched the Wombat Awareness Organisation (WAO) in 2006 after feeling the Aussie herbivore lacked advocacy and protection.
Drought is a major concern for the wombat population, which has come under scrutiny, especially when they heavily graze pastoral lands.
“I want people to know wombats are so different to other animals and deserve to be protected and be safe in their own environment, but we’re watching them disappear,” Stevens told 10 daily.
“I’d see six to seven hundred regularly 10 years ago but now I’m lucky to see one.”
Australia has three species of wombat, with the largest being the northern hairy-nosed, which is critically endangered.
Stevens turned an old ‘hippie commune’ into a home for injured or at-risk wombats that can’t be released back into the wild.
With just one other full-time volunteer, they care for 85 wombats in the South Australian free-range sanctuary.
“We have three houses and a lot of land and live with the wombats, so they can live in burrows or they can come inside and watch TV with us!”
Two-year-old orphans, Pebbles and Boggle, have just moved themselves into burrows but still enjoy human attention.
“They have recently become the outdoor types and just started moving out into the big burrows with the adult wombats,” Stevens said.
Wombats aren’t fully mature until the age of five and the pair certainly enjoy childish games like ‘chasies’ (as seen in the video at the top of this article).
As they see us coming, they put on a show and start showing off - they know when the camera is on!
While this behavior might seem uncommon to the untrained eye, Stevens said it’s actually secret-wombat-business.
“It’s natural wombat behavior, all our wombats do it but the difference is most do it at the night so we don’t really see it.”
It's not the only unexpected behavior Stevens has seen.
“They suck their thumb when they’re sad, get the hiccups, are really affectionate, gentle and trusting…but there’s also that crazy side.
“They’re extraordinary intelligent, I’ve had one undo screws to open a fence! They work out how to open doors, make their own beds and come inside to towel off or get their blankets changed.”
Wombats are wild, territorial animals and should be left alone in the wild.
“They aren’t pets, they don’t like being isolated and confined,” Stevens explained.
“We are in a really unique position at the sanctuary to show them as they are without any hindrances from people.”
There are some things the everyday person can do to support wombats.
“It’s driving slowly at dusk and dawn when the wombats are moving around the most and if they see one struggling to call someone,” Stevens said.
“Also sharing our message, because people-power is amazing.”