Devil Ark at Barrington Tops

Filed under Environment & Pollution, News ~ by Press on  2 Aug 2012

Pouch checking at Devil Ark reveals 32 new Tasmanian devils born in this year’s breeding season, exceeding last year’s total of 26 devils born in Devil Ark’s first breeding season.

This further cements Devil Ark’s reputation as the leading Tasmanian devil breeding facility in the country.  This is the stuff that conservation dreams are made of and it’s an incredible project to be part of,” said Devil Ark Operations Manager, Tim Faulkner.

Image: Aggy with one of her 4 joeys at Devil Ark, Barrington Tops

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) affects over 90% of the wild population and 90% of Tasmanian landscape and extinction in the wild is considered inevitable.  

Devil Ark has over 100 devils with a short term goal of 360 devils by 2016. It is the largest breeding facility in the program of 20 zoos across Australia. They aim to insure a population of disease free devils for repopulation into Tasmania once DFTD has forced extinction in the wild.

According to Dr Howel Williams, Director, Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, the opening in 2011 of Devil Ark project at Barrington Tops was major commitment to the insurance population and and survival of the Tasmanian devil.

‘Aggy’ is from the wild population in Tasmanian. In August 2010, when she was five months old and still in the pouch, her mother was found with the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) and needed to be euthanized. This meant Aggy was hand reared.

She was then placed in quarantine for a year to ensure she was disease free before being released at Devil Ark in 2011. This is her year of breeding. Her 6.7 kg this is a good weight for age.

As I did my afternoon rounds at Devil Ark today I could hear a sound and it was such a familiar sound – one that really brings a smile to my face. The sound of Tasmanian devil joeys outside their mother’s pouch” said Devil Ark keeper, Andrew Pottage.

Even without seeing it I knew the devil joeys were out of mum’s pouch and riding around on her back – these are the first joeys we have seen out of the pouch this year at Devil Ark and it is thrilling!”

Andrew said that over the past few days he had been noticing joeys “exploding” from mums pouch.

We have started to see tails and back feet hanging out of the pouch of many of the females at Devil Ark. However this is the first time I have seen such a bold youngster riding around on his mother’s back at such an early age!”

This is a great result for the mother, ‘Aggy’s’ past sad history.

Aggy has four joeys at an estimated 4-4.5 months old and approximately 11cm long. Although fully furred, the fur still hasn’t finished growing. 

With only about 10% of the wild population left of Tasmanian devils, conservation breeding programs like Devil Ark are critical to the survival of the iconic Australian species.

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