High in the hills of Barrington Tops in NSW is Devil Ark – a conservation breeding program for the Tasmanian devil. The iconic Tasmanian marsupial is at serious risk of extinction from the highly contagious devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). To prevent extinction, healthy Tasmanian devils must be bred away from the disease to form an insurance population.
Since the discovery of DFTD in 1996, Tasmanian devil numbers have plummeted. Only 15% of the original population survives in the wild. Infection means certain death for the devil – but only after a horrific illness. Starvation, dehydration and the breakdown of vital organs kills the devil within six months of them contracting DFTD.
How to save the devil?
The race is on to breed large numbers of Tasmanian devils away from the disease-front. It is also critical that these devils are genetically diverse and are raised in a way to ensure they can be released into Tasmania once DFTD has run its destructive course.
This is where Devil Ark plays a vital role.
Why is Devil Ark so special?
Devil Ark is the largest conservation breeding program for the Tasmanian devil on mainland Australia. At an altitude of 1,350 metres, Devil Ark provides the perfect breeding environment for devils. The Tasmanian-like vegetation and cool, wet and snowy conditions means the devils feel right at home!
Devil Ark is very different to a zoo where small enclosures mean loss of natural behaviour. Devils at Devil Ark are kept in a natural environment to maintain their wild behaviour and our keepers intervene as little as possible. This means a cost-effective and devil-friendly approach.
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