Tasmanian Devils Breed on the Mainland for First Time in 3000 Years

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: May 26, 2021 12:58 pm

Tasmanian Devil Joeys Aussie Ark

A Tasmanian devil joey in the pouch at a recent check by Aussie Ark staff

Photo Credit: Aussie Ark

Aussie Ark have announced that Tasmanian devils have been born on the Australian mainland for the first time in over 3,000 years. In partnership with Re:wild and WildArk the facility has celebrated the birth of 7 Tasmanian devil joeys.

“We have been working tirelessly for the better part of 10 years to return devils to the wild of mainland Australia with the hope that they would establish a sustainable population,” said Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark.

“Once they were back in the wild, it was up to them, which was nerve wracking. We had been watching them from afar until it was time to step in and confirm the birth of our first wild joeys. And what a moment it was!” 

Tasmanian Devil Joeys Aussie Ark

An adult Tasmanian devil is held by Tim Faulkner, President of Aussie Ark

Photo Credit: Aussie Ark

In late 2020 the team at Aussie Ark released 26 adult Tasmanian devils in to their wild sanctuary. 7 of the females are considered reproductively mature and this could lead to the birth of 20 joeys. During their health check, carers at the wildlife charity confirmed that the 7 joeys are in perfect health.

To reduce disturbance to the new arrivals they are monitored through camera traps outside of their regular health and wellbeing checks.

Tasmanian devils are highly threatened with just 25,000 remaining in Tasmania where they are regularly infected with Devil Facial tumor disease. This is one of the few contagious cancers on Earth. On the mainland they vanished many years ago. It is thought this disappearance occurred due to competition with dingoes.

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Aussie Ark worked for years to build their insurance population of Tasmanian devils and learn everything they need to know about the needs of the 26 adult devils released to the wild.

“The fact that the adults have adapted so quickly is remarkable and the joeys are one of the most tangible signs that the reintroduction of Tasmanian devils is working,” said Don Church, president of Re:wild. “This doesn’t just bode well for this endangered species, but also for the many other endangered species that can be saved if we rewild Australia, the country with the worlds worst mammal extinction rate. Tasmanian devils are ecosystem engineers that can restore and rebalance the wild to the benefit of other native wildlife, to the climate, and to people.”

The 26 Tasmanian devils chosen for release to the wild were picked based upon their suitability for breeding without inbreeding.

Tasmanian Devil Joeys Aussie Ark

One of the adult Tasmanian devils at Aussie Ark

Photo Credit: Aussie Ark

In 2011 the Aussie Ark breeding program for the Tasmanian devil was established with 44 individuals. Today over 200 individuals, half of the captive population live at the facility. Here they live in a semi-wild state which encourages their natural behaviors.

Over the coming two years, two further releases of up to 20 joeys in each will occur.

“Once again we’ve been amazed by the dedicated work of Aussie Ark to repopulate Australia’s wildlife. This breeding milestone with the Tasmanian Devil program on the mainland represents such a positive step towards seeing our endangered marsupials flourish” said Mark Hutchinson, Cofounder of WildArk. “Tim Faulkner and the whole team are an inspiration to us at WildArk and we’re so fortunate to call them partners. Watch this space, more wildlife goodness coming.”

Learn more about Tasmanian Devils here – Tasmanian Devil Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Aussie Ark on their website – Aussie Ark

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