ALBUQUERQUE A little piece of Australia has found its way to New Mexico.
Officials at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo on Thursday showed off their latest acquisition: a nearly 2-year-old Tasmanian wombat named Otto.
After a quick photo op with Mayor Richard Berry and other officials, Otto got to inspect his new home. The furry creature wasted no time waddling around a small pond, crawling up a large log, munching on the native grass and playing with his stuffed teddy bear toy.
This is way cool, the mayor said as he watched Otto. You just cant get any cuter.
There are about a half-dozen other species of wombats in zoos around the country, but Otto and the two adult wombats that arrived in Albuquerque last week are the only Tasmanian wombats in North America. Theyre from Tasmania, an island south of the Australian mainland.
Zoo officials said it has taken several years of planning and about $60,000 in funds raised by the BioPark Society to acquire the three orphaned wombats. Final approval to export the animals came recently, and zoo officials made a 14-hour road trip to Los Angeles to meet the wombats after the animals long flight from Australia.
Theyre full of character and personality, so Im sure theyre going to be a real hit here, said Androo Kelly, an expert from the Trowunna Wildlife Park in Tasmania who hand-reared the three wombats and escorted them to Albuquerque.