SYDNEY, Australia — It took almost 30 years, but the Taronga Zoo in Sydney has finally been graced with some baby puggles.
No, we’re not talking about the dog breed. Puggles are baby short-beaked echidnas, a species of spiny anteater.
The babies debuted last week at the newly completed breeding facility at the zoo, though they were hatched all the way back in August. After they’re born, the little puggles cozy up in their mothers’ pouch until they grow spines and hair for protection.
Besides being fat-bellied handfuls of pure cuteness, echidnas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. According to the Taronga Zoo’s Paul Fahy, their numbers are decreasing in their native Australia due to loss of habitat. They are shy and elusive in the wild, making reproductive habits nearly impossible to study.
Obviously, this makes the zoo’s new puggle trio even more precious.
“All three mothers are doing an amazing job and tending to their puggles as needed. We have one mum, Spike, who is so attentive that she returns to feed her baby every second day,” said Suzie Lemon, a keeper at Taronga Zoo.
“This is a big step forward for Taronga. By monitoring the puggles so closely we’ve now got a good broad understanding of their growth cycle and development,” Lemon explained. “A day in the puggle world consists of lots of sleeping. They can be buried up to 30cm deep in their burrow, so they’ll just sleep and use all their energy to grow and develop.”
Pudgy AND sleepy? Echidnas are officially your new Thanksgiving spirit animal.
The Taronga babies don’t have names yet, but the keepers took to the zoo’s Facebook page to ask for some suggestions. Now, go spread the good word of the puggles. Your favorite animal lover will thank you.