BROOKFIELD – Animal care staff and guests recently celebrated a milestone birthday for Brookfield Zoo’s oldest animal, when Adelaide, a short-beaked echidna, turned 50 years old.
In honor of her birthday, Adelaide was presented a nutritious birthday cake topped with one of her favorite food items – wax worms, a news release stated. 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 adapted for digging, though their hind feet are used primarily for grooming.
Admission to Brookfield Zoo costs $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children ages 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and older at 8400 31st St. in Brookfield. Parking costs $14 for cars. For more information on all its attractions and special events, visit CZS.org/Events or call 708-688-8000.