Lucky baby anteater escapes birds, falls from tree into care of Australian zoo

The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself. (Taronga Zoo Sydney via Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 21 October 2020

Lucky baby anteater escapes birds, falls from tree into care of Australian zoo

  • The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself

SYDNEY: A lucky echidna puggle, or baby spiny anteater, that survived an attack by birds and fell from a tree is taking its first steps as zoo keepers in Australia hand-feed the young mammal.
Members of the public brought the young echidna to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney last month after it fell 4 meters from a tree onto their balcony, somehow escaping becoming supper for the winner of a clash between a raven and a magpie.
“He was lost from his mum and the story is that some people were just sitting on their balcony one nice afternoon and they heard this thud and they looked down and they saw this little guy on the balcony,” said Taronga Zoo Senior Keeper Sarah Male.
“And they’ve looked up into the tree and seen a raven and a magpie there.”
After recovering from scratches and peck marks, the puggle – grey, sharp-nosed and easily held in the palm of one hand – has put on weight and started to develop fur, Male said.
“While the puggle is improving every day, it is still very young and in the wild would still be dependent on mum, so will require ongoing care for the next few months,” she said in an emailed statement.
“I’ve hand-raised lots of animals throughout the years at Taronga but such a young echidna puggle is a new experience.”
The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself. The zoo said it hasn’t made plans for the animal beyond that.
Echidnas and platypuses are the only two species belonging to the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. Their young are known as puggles.


Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii

The casts of what are believed to have been a rich man and his male slave fleeing the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago, are seen in what was an elegant villa on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii destroyed by the eruption in 79 A.D., where they were discovered during recents excavations, Pompeii archaeological park officials said Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP)
Updated 22 November 2020

Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii

  • Pompeii officials said the men apparently escaped the initial fall of ash from Mount Vesuvius then succumbed to a powerful volcanic blast that took place the next morning

ROME: Skeletal remains of what are believed to have been a rich man and his male slave attempting to escape death from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago have been discovered in Pompeii, officials at the archaeological park in Italy said Saturday.
Parts of the skulls and bones of the two men were found during excavation of the ruins from what was once an elegant villa with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city destroyed by the volcano eruption in 79 A.D. It’s the same area where a stable with the remains of three harnessed horses were excavated in 2017.
Pompeii officials said the men apparently escaped the initial fall of ash from Mount Vesuvius then succumbed to a powerful volcanic blast that took place the next morning. The later blast “apparently invaded the area from many points, surrounding and burying the victims in ash,” Pompeii officials said in a statement.
The remains of the two victims, lying next to each other on their backs, were found in a layer of gray ash at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep, they said.
As has been done when other remains have been discovered at the Pompeii site, archaeologists poured liquid chalk into the cavities, or void, left by the decaying bodies in the ash and pumice that rained down from the volcano near modern-day Naples and demolished the upper levels of the villa.
The technique, pioneered in the 1800s, gives the image not only of the shape and position of the victims in the throes of death, but makes the remains “seem like statues,” said Massimo Osanna, an archaeologist who is director general of the archaeological park operated under the jurisdiction of the Italian Culture Ministry.
Judging by cranial bones and teeth, one of the men was young, likely aged 18 to 25, with a spinal column with compressed discs. That finding led archaeologists to hypothesize that he was a young man who did manual labor, like that of a slave.
The other man had a robust bone structure, especially in his chest area, and died with his hands on his chest and his legs bent and spread apart. He was estimated to have been 30- to 40-years-old, Pompeii officials said. Fragments of white paint were found near the man’s face, probably remnants of a collapsed upper wall, the officials said.
Both skeletons were found in a side room along an underground corridor, or passageway, known in ancient Roman times as a cryptoporticus, which led to to the upper level of the villa.
“The victims were probably looking for shelter in the cryptoporticus, in this underground space, where they thought they were better protected,” said Osanna.
Instead, on the morning of Oct. 25, 79 A.D., a “blazing cloud (of volcanic material) arrived in Pompeii and...killed anyone it encountered on its way,” Osanna said.
Based on the impression of fabric folds left in the ash layer, it appeared the younger man was wearing a short, pleated tunic, possibly of wool. The older victim, in addition to wearing a tunic, appeared to have had a mantle over his left shoulder.
Mount Vesuvius remans an active volcano. While excavations continue at the site near Naples, tourists are currently barred from the archaeological park under national anti-COVID-19 measures.