Winnie the wombat, believed to be the world's oldest living wombat, recently celebrated her 31st birthday in grand style with a custom-made birthday cake.
Winnie lives at the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, Australia, and she was thought to have been 6 years old at the time of her arrival in 1992. Wombats – a rodent-like species of marsupial native to the Land Down Under – have an average lifespan of about 15 years in the wild but have been known to live for 30 years or more in captivity. A wombat named Patrick at the Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria passed away just before reaching his 32nd birthday, leaving Winnie as the world's oldest living wombat.
Unlike most wombats, Winnie is unusually active during the day, an attribute that has helped make her one of the most popular animals according to zoo visitors. Her keepers have noted her love for large enrichment toys such as colorful plastic garbage bins, and Winnie can often be seen playing with the toys and knocking the bins around her enclosure.
Being a captive creature catered to by hoards of zookeepers and staff, Winnie (who has her own Facebook account) has grown to be a tad fussy at meal times. Her favorite foods are corn and grated carrot, especially the latter. Winnie has been known to turn her nose up at meals delivered without any grated carrot, earning her a reputation as one of the zoo's fussiest eaters.
That said, birthdays are special – even for wombats – and zoo staff helped Winnie celebrate the big 3-1 by “baking” a very special, very wombat-friendly cake. The actual recipe is an in-house secret but we can tell you the cake included all of Winnie's fave foods such as fruit, lettuce and of course carrots. Happy Birthday, Winnie... and let's hope zoo staffers get the chance to top themselves next December!