Wagga Wagga City Council staff are today mourning the loss of the Botanic Gardens Zoo and Aviary’s most iconic resident, Dozer the southern hairy-nosed wombat.
Sadly, Dozer, who’s called the popular Wagga attraction home for at least 19 years, died this morning from suspected heart failure.
“It has been tough for staff to say goodbye to our beloved Dozer,” Manager Parks and Strategic Operations Henry Pavitt said.
“He definitely had a good-innings and has left a long-lasting impression on the zoo.
“Dozer will be missed by both staff and visitors, who all enjoyed seeing him up and about.”
Dozer held a particularly special place in the hearts of the zoo many visitors, commonly regarded as one of the garden’s more mysterious residents.
“He was a bit of a legend, kind of like Wagga’s 5’oclock wave,” Mr Pavitt joked.
“Visitors loved the challenge of trying to spot Dozer. It was like winning the lottery when he was out in the open, and you could manage to get a photo of the old fellow.”
Mr Pavitt said while Dozer has given community members enduring memories, many staff will fondly remember him as a “cantankerous old man”.
“He was fantastic for the zoo, and the wider community, but he was definitely a grumpy old man,” Mr Pavitt said.
“He was set in his ways, didn’t like to be woken out of his slumber and was happy to try and hide away.”
Though staff are devastated to be farewelling Dozer, the wombat’s legacy is expected to live on, with Mr Pavitt revealing plans to welcome another wombat to the zoo in the future.
“It won’t happen straight away. We’ll take this opportunity to look at ways to improve the enclosure before unveiling a new addition,” Mr Pavitt said.