A fuzzy, little troublemaker with a kleptomaniac attitude and the guilty look of a dog that just nosedived into your leftover turkey; the Niffler is bound to become the top of every child's wildly unrealistic Christmas list, and win the hearts of Potterheads and non-Potterheads alike.
But, did you know there's a real-life equivalent to the Niffler who's just as adorable? Fans have been eager to point out the Niffler shares a pretty striking resemblance to Australia's puggle; not the pug-beagle crossbreed, but the name for a baby echidna - a species of slender-snouted, egg-laying mammals which lives in Australia and New Guinea.
In fact, the film's release was coincidentally timed with a rare puggle birth at Sydney's Taronga Zoo (via CNN), that's been nearly 30 years in the making; a trio of puggles debuting at the zoo last week as part of the its newly completed breeding facility, having hatched all the way back in August.
"All three mothers are doing an amazing job and tending to their puggles as needed. We have one mum, Spike, who is so attentive that she returns to feed her baby every second day," said Suzie Lemon, a keeper at Taronga Zoo. "This is a big step forward for Taronga. By monitoring the puggles so closely we've now got a good broad understanding of their growth cycle and development. A day in the puggle world consists of lots of sleeping. They can be buried up to 30cm deep in their burrow, so they'll just sleep and use all their energy to grow and develop."
With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them breaking the record for the UK's biggest opening weekend in 2016, guaranteed the puggle is destined to become something of an internet sensation in the coming months. Watch out, sloths.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out now.
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