Insurance for the future
Featherdale Wildlife Park has recently welcomed the arrival of two Devils….Tasmanian Devils, that is. The 2 year old brothers, Saxon and Vandal recently arrived from Peel Zoo in Western Australia and are part of the Tasmanian Devil Insurance Population. This vital programme has been developed to build a sustainable captive population of Devils, free from the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease which has decimated the Tasmanian wild population in the past two decades.
DNA samples were taken before the boys departed for their new home at Featherdale. The samples have been sent to the University of Sydney for testing and will provide valuable information on familial lineage and may assist with future breeding programs. Whilst the two boys are not presently required for breeding, they will be important ambassadors for building awareness and educating visitors on the threat facing this endangered species.
Devil Facial Tumour Disease or DFTD, is a fatal disease first recognised in wild Devils during the 1990’s. Since discovery of the disease, sightings of wild Devils have decreased by approximately 70 percent. The Cancer is transmitted like a contagious disease and is characterised by large facial tumours around the face and neck. The Disease makes it increasingly difficult to compete for and, digest food, with most Devils dying within a few short months of tumours first appearing.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), in conjunction with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), are managing the Devil Breeding Programme and are working towards maintaining the captive insurance population of 550 Devils. This strategy may one day assist in re-establishing wild populations in Tasmania.