CHICAGO (CBS) – Brookfield Zoo is celebrating its first hatching of a new baby puggle.
The unnamed and unsexed puggle – a baby short-beaked echidna – hatched between March 2 and 5, according to the zoo.
It will remain in a nestbox for a few more months to receive nourishment from its 47-year-old mother, Waddles. Animal care staff has been closely monitoring the puggle to ensure its development and weighing it frequently to make certain it is nursing from its mother.
A female echidna incubates a single soft leathery egg in her pouch for a short period of about 10 days. The puggle clings to hairs inside its mother’s pouch for a few months. Once its spines begin to harden, the mother removes the offspring from the pouch and builds a burrow for it to continue to develop, and nurses it until around 7 months old.
The puggle is anticipated to venture from the nestbox sometime in August. Guest then will be able to view it in the zoo’s Australia House. Other echidnas, including Waddles, Pokey, Kapi, Rex; and the oldest animal at Brookfield Zoo, 53-year-old Adelaide, currently can be seen in their habitats.
Echidnas are one of only two mammal species, along with the duck-billed platypus, that is in the order Monotremata, or mammals that lay eggs. Currently, there are only 29 short-beaked echidnas in 10 accredited North American zoos, including Brookfield Zoo. They are native to Australia and central and south New Guinea.
There are no major threats to the short-beaked echidna in the wild, although it is threatened by overhunting for food in parts of New Guinea, According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).