THE fight to bring the northern hairynosed wombat back from the brink of extinction is a step closer with the arrival of a joey at Mt Larcom's Safe Haven Wombat Breeding Centre.

A "pouch count" of nine female wombats conducted as part of a research program run by Australian Animals Care and Education on Monday and Tuesday uncovered the precious joey.

AACE's Tina Janssen said the centre moved to Mt Larcom 14 months ago from Marlborough and had received funding from QGC and Orica to help build the new facilities.

The discovery of a joey this week was the first success in the wombat breeding program since the centre's move.

Only 100 northern hairynosed wombats remain, and conservation programs have not yet risked moving any individuals into captivity in order to breed, for fear of losing them from stress.

"We're doing our research and breeding with the southern hairynosed wombat, in the hope of getting everything right so we can bring the northerns into captivity and have them breed," Ms Janssen said.

Dreamworld vet Vere Nicolson conducted the pouch counts and found the joey.

"It's a great result given that most wombat breeding programs in Australia produced one every two to three years and very little was known about the species's breeding habits," he said.

Volunteers are calling for helpers and donations, and will be holding viewings of rescued baby wombats at Stockland on Saturday, March 22.

Contact AACE on 0408 613 914 or http://www.aaceproject.com.



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