At just six months of age and weighing barely 1kg, Babbin has come a remarkably long way in her short life.
Making headlines as one of the two first short-beaked echidnas to be born to zoo-bred parents, the puggle, or baby echidna, first appeared to the public in December as nothing more than a tiny pink ball.
These days, Babbin sports the species' characteristic spikes from head to tail and her human minders are delighted with her healthy growth. For senior zookeeper Belinda Turner - who has become Babbin's surrogate parent since she was shunned by her mother Chindi - her development has been a labour of love as well as science.
Along with her colleagues at Perth Zoo, Ms Turner is helping build a clearer picture of these little-understood native animals.
The work is giving the zoo's echidna breeding program a reputation as a leader in its field - so much so that the institution will host experts today for a seminar to discuss the matter. Ms Turner said although short-beaked echidnas were not threatened, it was important to know more about them before threats such as predation and urban growth could become more serious.
"They're very cryptic animals, very shy animals," Ms Turner said."They are really common across Australia and are found in every single habitat . . . but people generally report that they don't see them in the wild because they are so elusive and so shy. But I love echidnas - they never cease to amaze me."
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