Oldest Animal at Brookfield Zoo: A Short-Beaked Echidna Celebrates 50 on Saturday, March 23, 2019

Short-Beaked Echidna Birthday Brookfield Zoo
Short-Beaked Echidna Birthday Brookfield Zoo.

On Saturday March 23, 2019, animal care staff at the Brookfield Zoo and guests celebrated a milestone birthday for Brookfield Zoo’s oldest animal. Adelaide, a short-beaked echidna, turned 50 years old. In honor of her birthday, Adelaide was presented with a nutritious birthday cake topped with one of her favorite food items—wax worms. Afterwards, guests and staff sang “Happy Birthday to You.” Echidnas are also known as spiny anteaters.

According to Brookfield Zoo, short-beaked echidnas are native to Australia and central and south New Guinea. They are one of only two mammals to lay eggs. Their backs are covered with stout spines among a fur coat of varying color from light brown to black. They have a short, stubby tail. The hollow spines that cover most of their body are yellowish at the base and black at the tip and measure about 2 inches long. The underbelly lacks spines but is covered with fur and thick bristles. They have a long, tubular snout. Since they do not have teeth, they use their long, sticky tongue to gather food. There are two sets of hardened, keratinous spines (one set on the roof of the mouth and one at the base of the tongue) for grinding insect exoskeletons into a paste. Their feet have five flat claws that are adapted for digging, though their hind feet are used primarily for grooming.

A primitive mammal that lays large yolky eggs and has a common opening for the urogenital and digestive systems. Monotremes are now restricted to Australia and New Guinea, and comprise the platypus and the echidnas.

Even though the Echidna are kind of cute, you probably don’t want to get too close. Like all monotremes, the animal has one orifice, the cloaca, for the passage of feces, urine and reproductive products. The male has internal testes, no external scrotum and a highly unusual penis with four knobs on the tip, which is nearly a quarter of his body length when erect. For the sake of biological science, you can search the age-restricted video on the drugbooda channel on YouTube (viewer discretion).

At 33 °C (91.4°F), the echidna also live with the second lowest active body temperature of all mammals, behind the platypus.

According to animaldiversity.org, Tachyglossus aculeatus (short-beaked echidna) has a lifespan of about 50 years.



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Short-Beaked Echidna Birthday Brookfield Zoo
Short-Beaked Echidna Birthday Brookfield Zoo.
Short-Beaked Echidna Birthday Brookfield Zoo
Short-Beaked Echidna Birthday Brookfield Zoo.

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