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Devils on the Run
Eight healthy Tasmanian Devils from Healesville Sanctuary are being quarantined ahead of their planned translocation to Maria Island off the east coast of Tasmania later next month. They will be the first devils from the Sanctuary's insurance population to be released onto the Island.
The Sanctuary's devils will be released alongside a number of mainland-bred devils from zoos across Australia to boost the health of the Island population. The release will be the second of Tasmanian Devils on Maria Island with 15 devils released there late last year.
The Tasmanian Devil is sadly on the brink of extinction as Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a brutal cancer, rapidly spreads through the wild devil population. Total numbers in the wild have dropped by more than 80 per cent since 1996 as this cancer kills more Tasmanian Devils every day.
Healesville Sanctuary aims to breed and manage a sustainable captive population of about 120 devils – it currently has 79 healthy, disease-free devils with eight or nine joeys already born this breeding season.
“If devils are wiped out of existence, there are no second chances,” Healesville Sanctuary’s Director Glen Holland said. “We have to do what we can now for future generations - and for the Tasmanian ecosystem.”
Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Manager, Dr David Pemberton said that the Maria Island Devil Translocation Project had so far been a success with the devils adapting well to their new environment and breeding successfully in their first season in the wild.
“The devils coming from the mainland have been selected for their genetic and behavioural suitability and will boost the gene pool of the Maria Island population.
“Healesville Sanctuary is a key partner of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and has played a major role in helping to establish an insurance population of Tasmanian Devils,” he said.