The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo will soon become only the 3rd zoo in North America to host Tasmanian Devils as part of the endangered species breeding program. They will be housed in the Australian Adventure Area which is undergoing a $7 million renovation.
Currently only eight devils are housed in the US and only 20 can be found outside of Australia.
Jim Anderson, director of the Fort Wayne Zoo said, ““We are very eager to share Tasmanian devils with our fans and to participate in an important conservation effort.”
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo was selected as part of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program run by the Australian government to host the devils. This program is aiming to create an ‘insurance population’ of the endangered devils which may soon go extinct.
These animals are being decimated in their homeland of Tasmania by the Devil Facial Tumour Disease which is one of only two contagious cancers in the world. Spread by biting this disease has taken out 70% of the wild devil population in just ten years. In the event the devils go extinct this population will act as back up that can be released into the wild.
Tasmanian devils last lived in Fort Wayne 11 years ago. Between 1987 and 2004 the zoo was home to 12 Tasmanian devils. This was the largest amount held by any North American Zoo.
“Our expertise with Tasmanian devils and commitment to caring for this species most likely played a role in our selection by the Australian government,” added Anderson.
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo housed the last Tasmanian Devil outside of Australia at the time, known as Coolah, up until 2004 when he passed away. Currently the zoo is unaware of when the devils will arrive or how many they will be receiving.
Photo Credits: Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo