GEORGE, the orphan baby wombat plucked from his mother’s pouch after she was hit and killed by a car in the Hunter Valley, won hearts across the world when a video of him bonding with his carer went viral.
Now, to mark the plucky wombat’s first birthday, the Australian Reptile Park has recreated the video of George messing around with the Somersby park’s general manager, Tim Faulkner.
George was just four months old when he was found alive in his mother’s pouch on the roadside near Scone and was brought to the Australia Reptile Park, where Mr Faulkner became his new “fill-in” family, the park said.
Eight months on and the one-year-old common wombat is an internet sensation. His first video, released last November, has already been watched 40 million times worldwide.
In the new video, released late on Tuesday, Mr Faulkner and George actually recreate the original, frame for frame.
In a statement, the Australian Reptile Park said Mr Faulkner was still a large part of George’s life.
“Eight months on from George’s arrival and he is thriving,” Mr Faulkner said in the statement.
“It’s always hit and miss with these little orphans. It’s hard to know if they’ve been exposed to disease, are malnourished or even injured in the accident.
“He has pulled through like a true champion.
“I’m so proud of the Australian ambassador George has become. Australian wildlife needs all the help it can get and George has stolen everyone’s heart, again.”
Mr Faulkner said the tragic loss of George’s mother highlighted the dangers to Australia’s native animals.
“Cars are one of the biggest threats to Aussie wildlife,” he said.
“I urge people to slow down in wildlife areas as it is animals like George the public will be protecting.
“Hundreds of thousands of animals are killed by vehicles each year and if we all took a little more care, we can decrease the amount dramatically.”
The Australian Reptile Park said it had a great relationship with Cedar Creek Wombat Rescue, where George would eventually be released when he was ready to return to the wild.