Healesville Sanctuary team members are estimating that they will welcomed up to five litters of joeys this year.
That won’t be it for the breeding season though. During November 2013 eight devils from Healesville Sanctuary travelled to Tasmania as part of a group of eleven which were released on Maria Island. Now a year later they have had joeys as well.
Life Sciences Manager, Conservation and Research with Zoos Victoria, Dr Melanie Lancaster said, “This is a fantastic result for Tasmanian Devils and Healesville Sanctuary as it tells us that we are able to breed devils at the Sanctuary that have the skills to breed and survive in the wild.”
Katniss will spend the next 10 months preparing her joeys to leave the den. When they venture out they will learn behaviours from the other devils that will prepare them for joining the breeding program.
“Katniss’ joeys – and those born in the wild – are an important contribution to the Save the Tasmanian Devil insurance population that Healesville Sanctuary has played a big part in developing and maintaining,” added Dr. Lancaster.
Breeding Tasmanian Devils in captivity is an important step in saving this species which is endangered as a result of Devil Facial Tumour Disease. This has so far wiped out 85% of the wild devils living in Tasmania. With no cure currently available it is hoped that captive bred devils will be able to repopulate Tasmania if this species goes extinct.
Photo Credit: Healesville Sanctuary