A tiny arrival is welcomed at Safe Haven
TINA Janssen had given up hope and gone to bed so it wasn't until the next morning she learnt the news.
One of Safe Haven's southern hairy nosed wombats, Amy, gave birth just after midnight on Tuesday morning.
The naturally conceived embryonic joey had crawled into its mother's pouch by the time Ms Janssen was up but with the wombat under 24 hour video surveillance Ms Janssen was able to review the footage from the night before to make the discovery.
"About 11.30pm (Amy) was doing restless movements in the den, and I sat and watched (the footage) carefully and realised it was her ready to give birth,” she said.
"At 12.45 It was all over and she promptly lay down and went to sleep.”
The Safe Haven facility at Mount Larcom runs both an animal sanctuary and a captive breeding program, of which Ms Janssen is project manager.
The Safe Haven team were disappointed late last year with the result of their world first artificial insemination attempt on the southern hairy nose: no babies.
But the birth of a naturally conceived wombat still put a smile on their faces.
It was a celebration combined with a new lesson.
"I've always assumed that wombats would give birth during daylight ... we've assumed that's the safest time,” Ms Janssen said. .
"It just goes to show that even though we've been studying them for 12 years we assume things and we're wrong, we've got things to learn.”
While the embryonic joey would only weigh about a gram, in about eight months time, Ms Janssen said it should emerge from the pouch.
In that time it will grow from 1g to about 4kg.
Its future is uncertain at this stage. When grown Ms Janssen said, it may stay at Safe Haven or it may be sent overseas, possibly to an American zoo, to assist with captive breeding programs.
In the five years that Safe Haven has been running, staff have facilitated the birth of seven wombat joeys, including the new arrival.