Meet Sydney: an Echidna PuggleJuly 24, 2020
Our newest arrival is also one of the rarest zoo babies around!
We are so excited to share our newest and rarest baby animal arrival! Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is one of the few places in the United States where guests can see echidnas, an Australian relative of the platypus. Also known as a spiny anteater, echidnas are one of only five known species of monotreme – or highly specialized egg-laying predatory mammals.
Known as a “puggle” (which looks as adorable as it sounds), the baby echidna is a very special offspring for the park due to the species’ unusual reproduction. A mother echidna will lay a leathery, grape-sized egg and roll into her pouch. After ten days, a puggle the size of a jelly bean will hatch and begin nursing from unique milk glands in its mother’s pouch.
Luckily for mom, the puggle’s spines start poking through its back at about 53 days of age. The hollow spines are an adaptation that echidnas use as camouflage in the wild. The puggle stayed in the den for about seven months while mom periodically forages for food until her baby is ready to venture out on their own.
The Busch Gardens team is excited to share that Sydney the puggle is ready to greet guests at the park. You can find Sydney and mom, Adelaide, in the echidna habitat at Animal Connections.
It is the dedication and care of zookeepers that helps unique species like the echidna thrive through the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) Species Survival Plan, or SSP. The mission of the SSP is to cooperatively manage specific species populations within AZA-accredited facilities.