Cooper the wombat makes first public appearance at Prague Zoo

The only wombat in the Czech Republic was presented to the public at Prague Zoo today following a month-long quarantine upon his arrival.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 08.01.2022 13:09:00 (updated on 11.01.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Cooper the wombat made his long-awaited debut at Prague Zoo today following a month-long quarantine upon his arrival. The already-popular marsupial was introduced to the public by Czech actor Marek Eben at a ceremony this afternoon.

The new wombat is the first in the Czech Republic since the 1950s, and only one of a small handful in Europe. With the addition of Cooper, Prague Zoo has become just the ninth zoo in Europe to house wombats.

Cooper arrived in the Czech Republic from Hanover Zoo in Germany on December 8, and spent a month in quarantine prior to his public debut today. He was born about eighteen months ago to five-year-old father Kelly and three-year-old mother Maya; Cooper was Maya's first cub.

While wombats are traditionally nocturnal animals, Cooper has gotten used to daytime activity, and is particularly active in the afternoon. Prague Zoo's latest resident had already built up an online following in advance of his debut today, and Prague Zoo's director Miroslav Bobek took to social media to answer some of the more common questions from fans this morning.

Wombats are famous for their long underground burrows, but Bobek noted that the new enclosure was created specifically for the creatures, and steel nets two meters beneath the compacted soil would prevent them from escaping.

While Cooper is the first wombat at Prague Zoo, officials hope he isn't the last. The search is currently underway for a female wombat to join him at the new Darwin's Crater exhibit in Prague Zoo, though Covid-19 has caused complications in obtaining a member of the species from their native Australia.

Cooper is a Tasmanian wombat, a subspecies of the common wombat and slightly smaller than other species native to mainland Australia. Zoo officials are now attempting to locate him a potential mate in Tasmania. All species of wombats are protected in Australia.

"The wombat - one of Australia's symbols - is a truly special and at the same time attractive animal. We are therefore very pleased to be able to introduce this unique marsupial to the Czech public,” Bobek said.

"The male Cooper belongs to the Tasmanian subspecies of common wombat and a female should come to him from Tasmania."

Wombats are known for their unusual cube-shaped droppings, a unique phenomenon in the animal kingdom. Scientists have recently theorized that the cube-shaped poo is made for easier placement in wombat communication.

The Czech lands, meanhwhile, are famous for their own cubes: the sugar cube was invented by Jakob Christof Rad in 1843 in what is now Dačice, Czech Republic.

This connection was not lost at Cooper's introduction ceremony at Prague Zoo today. Alongside Eben, Czech pastry chef Josef Maršálek presented some unique cube-shaped desserts to welcome the wombat to the public.

Prague Zoo has previously made headlines for selling paper products made from elephant dung, but despite interest from fans, Bobek noted that Cooper's cube-shaped poo is not (yet) for sale.

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