Forget ghouls and goblins scaring them to death these four young devils are helping to save their species from a deadly cancer which is one of the only two types of cancer in the world spread by touching. It has almost wiped out all of the devils living in Tasmania.
The 4 joeys include one male and three females. They are the first offspring for their mother, Moretti and were born in March 2014.
Their Keeper, Denyell Woodhouse said, “Moretti is a very protective mother and we are really pleased with how she is caring for and nurturing her offspring.”
The joeys and Moretti are living in one of the two Tasmanian Devil breeding facilities at Taronga Western Plains Zoo which are not on display to the public.
In regards to the facial tumour Woodhouse added that, “Every birth in the Tasmanian Devil breeding program is important. The Devil Facial Tumour Disease is continuing to destroy wild populations, with up to a 90% decline in some wild populations since the discovery of the disease in 1996.”
22 Tasmanian devils, including these four, have been born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo since the beginning of the program in 2008.
“The joeys will stay with their mother until approximately 12 months of age, before they will be weaned and become independent,” added Woodhouse.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo form part of a co-operative breeding effort with other zoos that aims to increase Tasmanian devil numbers in zoos so one day they can be reintroduced in the wild if this cancer sends the species extinct. These joeys will help to add genetic diversity to the colony.
Woodhouse said that, ““It is hoped that in the future these four joeys will play an important role in the breeding program once fully matured, continuing to create greater genetic diversity in the insurance population.”
Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo