A 29 year old wombat virgin has helped Tourism Australia's Facebook page reach six million fans, making it the most followed tourism body on Facebook globally.
Yesterday morning, Tourism Australia's social media team posted a birthday greeting and photo of 'Patrick the Wombat' from Ballarat Wildlife Park on its popular Facebook page.
Within just 24 hours, Patrick - believed to be the largest and oldest living common wombat in the world - received 258k 'likes', helping Tourism Australia's social media page reach six million Facebook fans.
Tourism Australia's head of social media, Jesse Desjardins, said the giant 38kg wombat had helped provide the 'big push' they needed to hit six million fans.
“Australia's native animals are a massively popular feature of our Facebook page so it's very fitting that one of our most popular has helped us achieve this latest social media milestone. Patrick may not have found his life partner just yet but he has won the hearts of millions of our fans from around the world.”
The post generated 30k shares and 8k comments, including several from people who have met Patrick over the years.
In one comment, Amy Robinson wrote: “OMG!!! I met him approx. 25 years ago! Happy Birthday sweet little man. You are the reason I have loved wombats for all these years. Big kisses to you!!!!”.
Ballarat Wildlife Park's Social Media Manager Lauren Rix said, “We always knew that Patrick was a very special wombat, but the huge social media response that he has received this week is incredible”.
“Since Tourism Australia posted about Patrick yesterday, his Facebook page has grown by over 4.5k new followers and he has attracted the attention of television news media. It's safe to say that his birthday this year will be extended into a week of celebrations here at Ballarat Wildlife Park.”
Patrick was hand raised by the owner of the Ballarat Wildlife Park after being orphaned as a tiny baby. The team tried releasing Patrick back into the wild a couple of times, however he couldn't defend himself against other wombats which is why he become a special member of the Ballarat Wildlife Team.
In his younger days, Patrick was very much front of house, greeting the park's visitors in the car park in his wheelbarrow, but he's now given up his working duties and enjoying his retirement and carrots from well-wishers.
Tourism Australia receives over 1,000 photos per day from fans and tourism operators like Ballarat Wildlife Park. This collaboration has helped Tourism Australia maintain its leadership position as the most followed tourism body on Facebook, Instagram and Google+.