Baby wombat becomes tourism ambassador

Media captionWatch this tiny wombat

An online competition to become the “chief cuddler” of a baby wombat in Tasmania, has made the tiny marsupial an online celebrity.

Eight-month-old Derek was rescued from his mother’s pouch after she was hit by a car.

He is being cared for by wombat experts on Flinders Island, between Tasmania and mainland Australia, and will eventually be returned to the wild.

The contest was created by Tourism Tasmania, which promotes the region.

Derek is being looked after by Kate Mooney, known as the “Wombat Lady of Flinders Island”, who has cared for the island’s orphaned wombat joeys for two decades.

Image copyright
Sean Scott Photography

Image caption

The campaign was created after Australian landscape photographer Sean Scott shot a video of Derek that quickly spread around the internet

Despite the promise of being “chief wombat cuddler”, Tourism Tasmania’s Phil Souter told the BBC that access to Derek would be entirely “at the discretion of the handler” and would be “very carefully monitored by his handler and carer”.

As “potentially rambunctious little creatures”, much would also depend on Derek’s mood, he said.

“He’s still fundamentally a wild wombat.”

But whether Derek feels like playing or not, the eventual competition winner will still get three days on Flinders Island – an area known for its natural beauty.

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