Friday, December 23, 2011

Population swells

Devil Ark now officially has 93 Tasmanian devils making us the largest conservation breeding program on the mainland! This is great news for the long-term survival of the devil.

Yesterday the arrival of ten more Tasmanian devils at Devil Ark has swelled our population and genetic pool just in time for the next breeding season that starts in February.

Some of the devils released yesterday are from Tasmania where they have been in quarantine for up to two years to ensure they are disease-free and others are from mainland zoos.

It’s a busy time at Devil Ark; we have just received breeding recommendations from ZAA (Zoo and Aquarium Association) and the stud book dictates which devils should be configured together for the impending breeding season which starts in February.

During the next few weeks, teenage devils (those who have reached reproductive age) will be transferred from their crèche enclosures at Devil Ark where they will be arranged into breeding groups of between six and eight.

And the 26 joeys born in the first breeding season at Devil Ark will be weaned and moved into the crèches vacated by the teenagers.

The growth at Devil Ark is very timely as recent news reports from Tasmania have brought the terrible news that the fatal DFTD (Devil Facial Tumour Disease) has infiltrated the western half of the state and in particular the north-west, which was the Tasmanian devils’ last stronghold. The areas were believed to be free of the devastating disease that is propelling the Tasmanian devil towards extinction and now sees more than 84% of the wild population destroyed.

Devil Ark Operations Manager Tim Faulkner believes “This could see the whole state of Tasmania left with between just 1-5% of devils in as little as two years.”