Patrick the Wombat, crown jewel of the Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Australia, was a very special guy. He loved to ride around in a bright blue wheelbarrow and welcome visitors from around the world. Nearly every day, his keepers filled his official Facebook page with Patrick portraits, in which he cuddled with his friends, hid in straw, and offered ”bucky-toothed kisses” to his many devotees.
But nothing gold can stay. According to said page, Patrick the wombat died peacefully on Tuesday, surrounded by loved ones.
Patrick broke a lot of records over the course of his long life. As far as anyone knew, he was the world’s oldest wombat—last August, he celebrated his 32nd birthday, which makes him about 130 in human years. He was also the biggest, once bulking up to about 88 pounds. And he certainly had the most Facebook fans of any individual wombat, at over 56,000.
Cuteness and celebrity are two of the contemporary world’s most potent forces. To his many fans, Patrick was more than just a marsupial—he was a friendly-faced point of agreement in increasingly polarized times.
Thanks for coming to see me all the way from England Jenny. I hear that’s a fair way to dig from xxxxxPosted by Patrick the Wombat on Tuesday, January 24, 2017
“He was such a bright spot in an otherwise dreary world,” one acolyte wrote on Facebook. “I can never put into words how special it was to meet him, pat him, and give him some corn,” wrote another.
Those of us who hadn’t gotten that chance never will, now. But we can all do our best to keep the corny, cuddly spirit of Patrick alive. Rest in peace, you unlikely hero.
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