World's Oldest, Fattest Wombat Turns 29 Years Young

Celebrity marsupial becomes the latest Internet celebrity of the animal kingdom.

Patrick, the world's largest wombat -- weighing in at an astounding 88 pounds -- turned 29 years old on Aug. 24.

In recent days, a Facebook birthday greeting posted by Tourism Australia galvanized the Internet, which hit the pause button on cat videos while it "Liked" the birthday post in the tens of thousands. Also the world's most popular wombat, Patrick has been on the Today show and enjoys celebrity status at the Ballarat Wildlife Park in Australia, where he has lived his entire life.

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Patrick is well beyond the lifespan of a wombat in the wild. Those that fend for themselves only live to see around 5 years of age. The disclosure, in the Tourism Australia birthday greeting, that Patrick is also the oldest wombat virgin has only endeared him all the more to his fans.

The wombat is the largest burrowing mammal on Earth and is largely nocturnal, making it tough to glimpse in the wild. It's not exactly a homebody, either, as a wombat can have a dozen or so burrows scattered throughout its home range. A handful of those burrows are its primary homes, connected by a secondary-tunnel network.

Fans of Patrick, and of wombats in general, may want to circle Oct. 22 on their calendars. That's, unofficially speaking, Wombat Day worldwide.

Patrick the Wombat

Rachel Sussman spent a decade working with biologists and traveling the globe to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. She traveled to remote locations from Greenland to Antarctica, Africa and Australia for her book


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