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Platypus puggle in a muddle—and one big puddle

23 February 2011

Little Yamacoona (Wurundjeri for "water spirit"), weighed only 335 grams when she arrived at the Sanctuary in a critical condition four weeks ago. She was miraculously found at Raymond Island floating in saltwater about four kilometres from the mouth of the Mitchell River. Raymond Island is a small island in the Gippsland Lakes off the coast of Paynesville in Victoria.

The nearest known sighting of any Platypus is 50 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Mitchell River.

Healesville Sanctuary vets believe it is possible that the Platypus' mother may have died during the floods so the puggle was washed out to the island into salt water. Yamacoona is about three months of age, and wouldn't have been weaned for another 6–8 weeks.

For the past four weeks Yamacoona has been cared for by the veterinary team and Platypus experts at Healesville Sanctuary. She arrived in a critical condition—it's the equivalent of a premature baby being cared for by intensive care neonatal doctors—except that she was being cared for by the veterinary and Platypus keeping team. She was being tube-fed but has now been weaned and taken off the critical list.

Healesville Sanctuary is renowned as the world expert in Platypus care and breeding. It also offers the best visitor experience of the Platypus in a natural environment, at the Sidney Myer World of the Platypus.

Although Platypus are not a threatened species, breeding them in captivity is still a rare event. The conservation value of the captive breeding of Platypus gives us exclusive knowledge if we ever needed an insurance population for the future survival of this unique species.

Visitors can learn more about the secret life of this unique Australian animal at the daily Keeper talk at 1pm.

People can also adopt a Platypus for as little as $10 a month. Adopting a Platypus is a great way to contribute directly to the care, wellbeing and enrichment of wildlife, both inside and outside our three zoos, as well as keeping updated about the Platypus.




Photos: Tim Carrafa, Herald Sun.