Tonka is a seven year old wombat who lives in Billabong Sanctuary in North Queensland, Australia. He’s had a rough life, the Huffington Post reports. When he was a baby his mother was hit by a car and he was left an orphan. In 2011 a portion of the sanctuary where he lives was damaged by a cyclone.
These two events made him very sad. In fact he lost about 20 percent of his body fat and was actually diagnosed with clinical depression. He was then given a small teddy bear as a comfort object.
“Many orphaned animals take comfort in cuddling teddies and Tonka just never grew out of it,” Samantha Sherman, who helps care for the Tonka, said in a statement. “He’s really just a big baby at heart.”
Kenneth B. Storey, a professor of biochemistry at Carleton University, explained that animals like Tonka who are depressed aren’t all that different from humans who deal with the issue. “Animals that are clinically depressed likely have the same problems as do humans with the condition — the brains of all mammals are remarkably the same,” Storey told The Dodo.
Tonka really loves his teddy bear. The two are inseparable and he pretty much carries his stuffed friend everywhere. The plays around and naps hugging his teddy bear. In fact, Tonka plays with his teddy bear so much, it actually has to be repaired and even replaced relatively often.
“Since Billabong Sanctuary is in the tropics, the teddy needs to be cleaned to avoid any bacteria and growth, so Tonka needs a spare one”, Sherman says. “He has big teeth so over time, as he carries his teddy around, it gets some tears,” Sherman said, according to the release. “The teddy doesn’t have a name because he gets new ones when needed.”
Luckily Tonka doesn’t seem to mind that as sometimes the actual connection is with the given toy and replacing it doesn’t have the same effect. Happily Tonka feels equally happy with his new stuffed friend.