This post was initially a note on Facebook from two and a half years ago. Because it is May and my birthday is coming soon (only 1 shopping day left!) and this was one of the best presents I have ever received, it only seems right to repost it in this venue. Enjoy!
I know this is kind of cheesy and people may even think that is a little silly given that there are bad things that are happening out there to human beings in the world, but a small bit of sadness came into the McKenna world this week and people need to know more about this small, furry and cute marsupial.
Before there was Hannah or JillyBean and before Susie and I were engaged, there was Carver. Carver was a southern hairy-nosed wombat and was born at Brookfield Zoo.
In 2000, Susie searched far and wide for some thing to get me for my birthday. She knew that my brothers and I had this odd obsession with wombats. (It mostly stemmed from a ficitious band in Rock and Roll High School Forever, called Wombat Vengeance. At some point we named a park volleyball team the same thing and came up with a hand gesture and dance. Heck, the next year the name of the team was Turbo Moses, for no particularly good reason, so what did we know. Anyway, after that the rest was history).
Susie settled in on adopting a wombat at a zoo. Easy enough, right? Well it turns out that there are only like 4 zoos in North America that actually have wombats. Luckily, one of them happened to be nearby, Brookfield Zoo. So Susie called and cheerfully tried to adopt a wombat. This was met with a very sincere “Are you sure you want to do that? Don’t you want a better animal than that, like a tiger or polar bear?” from the helpful zoo staffers. (Turns out that in Australia, wombats are actually an annoyance. They are the “Bulldozers of the Bush” and tend to dig a lot of holes in the ground, which livestock catch there legs in and break them which leads to a bad end for them.) However, after some persistence, the zoo took her money and I got my present.
We were good and diligent adoptive wombat parents, faithfully sending in our donation every year. However, we were delinquint in visiting him. Being from out of town, we had a hard time getting to the annual Share the Care night at the zoo. But one year, Susie and I met my parents and my brothers and we went to visit Carver. It was awesome. We may have been the first people in the Australia House for weeks. We definitely broke the rules (which we noted were posted as we were leaving) that prohibited pictures being taken in the exhibit. If we could have jumped into his area and given him a hug without being prosecuted or making the police blotter, we definitely would have done it. The best part was that there was this large metal wombat that was like a piggybank. It was collecting money to help the upkeep of the wombat exhibit. I am pretty sure we were the only people that have put money in there for the past 25 years. Our coins and bills may still be in there because it is possible they don’t ever check it knowing that no one ever donates. We pretty much emptied out our wallets and pockets of loose chains and small bills, because we were all so excited. I always wanted to go back.
About three years ago, we got a large envelope from Brookfiled Zoo, which was odd. The annual call for money was in a small envelope (sounds like college acceptance letters, right?!) so I knew it wasn’t that. I opened it and started to read the letter. The opening line was “As you know Carver is one of the oldest wombats in capitivity” and my heart dropped, I am sure this was setting me up to say that he had passed away. I did not want to read on. But I did and it turned out that the zoo had decided to have him mate with one of the young females. (You go Carver!) Whew, crisis averted.
Unfortunately, my worry of that day was only delayed until this week, when the letter came that told of his passing. At 34, he was definitely the oldest living captive wombat, and according to what is known about them is probably the longest living wombat ever, so that is pretty cool. He did have cataracts, severe arthritis and a history of squamous cell carcinoma, so when they discovered a big tumor on the roof of his mouth, the zoo decided it was time for Carver to head to the great outback in the sky. Can’t say I blame them.
Turns out that the mating from the 3 years ago went well and he produced another offspring (number nine at Brookfield Zoo for him) named Goldie. So we are now the proud adoptive supporters of Goldie, which is pretty cool. She does come from a good lineage of wombat longevity. Goldie’s grandmother (Carver’s mom) Vicky held the record for lifespan before Carver with 24 years, so who knows, she may outlive me!
Anyway, that is a little more about me and my little world. I know it is not up there with a world in turmoil, wars, people with sick and dying loved one or anything truly tragic, but hopefully for people who are stressed or worried or sad out there, you can think of a small, furry wombat and be a little happier for a moment.