Mortal Wombat

An abandoned wombat is rescued in San Diego, California.

Tangara the wombat may love to flatten herself across her keepers’ feet for a belly rub, but the marsupial wasn’t always so playful. San Diego Zoo keepers found Tangara’s tiny body lying on a cold concrete floor outside the warmth of her mother’s pouch. Rushed to the veterinary hospital, the baby marsupial had a faint heartbeat. But Tangara is a survivor. “She wasn’t going to give up,” says senior nursery keeper Janet Hawes. “She wanted to live.”

ON THE MEND

Tangara tolerated three months of injections, oxygen masks, and incubators. Then doctors found a heart problem. Her keepers feared the worst. Could she beat the odds? Absolutely! After a few weeks of treatment, Tangara was crawling into laps, begging to be scratched. “She never stopped being affectionate and sweet,” Hawes says. “She’s a fighter!”