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Tom the Ringtail Possum
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Christmas at the Zoo

Christmas is a busy time at the zoo, but Mum always makes sure her animals get a special treat in the weeks before! It will be too busy on Christmas day for keepers to give every animal a gift – so they start a bit early and give them enrichment with a Christmas theme. This year the quokkas at the Education Centre received Christmas cards, but instead of nice words they had smears of jam inside – their favourite rare treat! Also, the wallabies and kangaroos were spoilt and received some colourful treats! One animal who wasn’t sure about her Christmas enrichment was Tom – the Ringtail Possum. He was asked to have his photo taken with a Santa ornament, but he was very shy and wanted to stay in his nest box. I wonder if that was because he was nervous or because he is nocturnal and wanted to go back to sleep? Anyway I hope you have a great Christmas and enjoy every little treat!

Prehistoric moves

So, I guess you know that the dinosaurs at Taronga aren’t alive, right? Everyone knows that dinosaurs went extinct a long time ago! But the dinosaurs at the zoo are real, and they move and make sounds too! They are robots and it’s so cool – you can even control one and see how it works on the inside! It’s the Stegosaurus – one of my favourites because they have plates on their back that change colour! They are thought to do that to cool down and keep warm, like a crocodile can! Amazing! Anyway, the robot Stegosaurus is way fun and I had a go training it and making it move and mum filmed it for me. You can see the video here.

Cheery chicks

In preparation for this new activity, Keeper Jose has been teaching the chicks to be hand-fed. “The parents raise the chicks until they are five weeks old, then we spend three weeks training them to take small fish from us.“We’ve taught them to come running after us when we ring a bell for their food. This training is important as we need to do daily health checks. Having the penguins comfortable around us is very important” said Jose. “Some of the chicks learnt faster than others. Spud was being hand-fed after only a few days,” said Jose. Little Penguins are the only penguin species local to Australia; threats in the wild include marine debris like discarded fishing lines and nets. So, if you’re fishing this summer, please take all your rubbish and fishing gear with you when you leave the water’s edge!

A bulky baby

Kibibi was born in October but is now almost at double her birth weight and is starting to gain more confidence and strength in her legs, especially on land.
Cuddles is her mother, and is very protective and nurturing — she is never too far behind her calf on land and in the water she doesn’t let her swim far from her side yet. Kibibi will even rest her head on Cuddles’ back or shoulders whilst in the water! The keepers can tell she is a caring and gentle mother.
Keepers say the most interesting behaviour they observe is when the calf comes out of the water at feed time, Kibibi will often plonk herself in the middle of her mother’s hay pile —as it makes a nice bed— and then mum will just eat around her. I couldn’t do that at my house, that’s for sure!

Fun Fact: Santa’s Reindeer are probably a species of deer called Caribou, from North America. They are strong and about 150cm tall and live in the snow, which is why Santa chooses them I guess!