Winnie the wombat's legacy looms large

Winnie the Wombat, believed to be the world's oldest, has died at 32 years of age.
Winnie the Wombat, believed to be the world's oldest, has died at 32 years of age.

The world's oldest wombat has died aged 32 but her legacy will live on to protect wild populations.

Winnie, the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra's only wombat, was born in the wild before being taken into care, first at Birdland in Batemans Bay and then moving to the nation's capital in 1992.

"It's been a bit heartbreaking really to lose her," keeper Danielle Johinke, in charge of the zoo's native animals, told AAP on Thursday.

The wombat was adored by staff and visitors, the zoo wrote on its Facebook page.

Her health had deteriorated in recent weeks and "the difficult decision was made to ease her of any pain or discomfort".

"Winnie was well known for her high-spirited personality and would love to roll up in her favourite blankets when the weather became a little chilly," it said.

"Her favourite foods were corn and grated carrot. Her keepers made sure to add both to meals as she was a very fussy eater and wouldn't eat her food otherwise!"

The zoo has set up a foundation in Winnie's name to focus on conservation efforts in preventing sarcoptic mange among wombats in the Canberra region.

"It's a condition that's caused by a parasitic mite that is greatly affecting wild populations and hopefully the money raised by the Winnie Foundation will do some good," Ms Johinke said.

Australian Associated Press