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.”


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!”

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