Echidna at Sydney's Taronga Zoo

Photo: Stephanie Snipes

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With a spiky exterior and long snout, this egg-laying mammal is one-of-a-kind. The echidna can be found waddling across all sorts of terrain, from forests and rocky areas to snowy mountains and sandy plains.

“They’re probably the oldest mammal. Their fossil records go back 55 million years, and yet, if I do a checklist of my most successful mammal, that would be at the top of my list,” says Paul Maguire, Taronga Zoo's education manager. “I love how charismatic they are and how amazing they are—they’re just still here doing their business after such a long period of time.”

Paul discusses Taronga Zoo's history and conservation efforts. 

Echidnas are also surprisingly sneaky. “Our three echidna are called Puglsey, Ned and Spike. People don’t believe me, but at the back of my office is a screen door, and I've seen Pugsey climb up the screen door,” Paul says. “So Pugsley goes up, up the screen door and he goes across—five times this has happened—and he goes and sits on the door handle, and the door handle comes down. [Then,] Spike opens it at the bottom.”