Devil Breeding Success Gets National Fundraising Boost
Friday 17th October 2008

17 October 2008

Please visit the Tassie Devil Appeal at tassiedevilappeal.org

With 34 joeys already born in the national insurance population of Tasmanian Devils, an Australia-wide fundraising campaign to expand the program was announced at Taronga Zoo today.

The first year breeding success in Australian Zoos and wildlife parks was almost double that predicted by planners and the fundraising program will help rapidly expand the capacity needed to extend the breeding program to 18 organisations across the country.

The initiative was announced by the Taronga Conservation Society Australia's (TCSA) Director, Guy Cooper, at Taronga Zoo in Sydney today.

The fundraising for participating Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA) Zoos will be coordinated by the Taronga Foundation until 31 December, with the Foundation working with other zoos and wildlife parks for three months to generate awareness and funds to supporting the Insurance Breeding Program.

The national effort will be operated for four weeks coordinated through a special website at www.tassiedevilappeal.org using an on-line campaign in which people can breed virtual Devils, donating to the appeal and sharing the opportunity to help save the Devil and involve their friends.  A stylised, animated Tasmanian Devil will star of the on-line campaign while the compelling real-life Devils at Australian zoos will be the public face of the campaign.

The Tasmanian Devil is facing extinction from a rare transmission cancer called the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) which now affects wild Tasmanian Devils across more than half of Tasmania with a 64 per cent decline in the population over the last 10 years.

Mr Cooper said: "Zoos and wildlife parks are sharing knowledge, expertise and fundraising in what is the first truly national program of its kind.  "This is a perfect example of how modern zoos work cooperatively to get great outcomes for wildlife."

There currently are 115 devils in the insurance population which are being managed by zoos and wildlife parks including Taronga Zoo, Taronga Western Plains Zoo, the Australian Reptile Park, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Healesville Sanctuary and Monarto Zoo.

Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, David Llewellyn congratulated the Taronga Conservation Society Australia on their fundraising initiative. He said: "The Save the Tasmanian Devil program, funded by the Tasmanian and Australian Government's has brought together support from all levels of Government, private industry and the wider community to aid this significant conservation program for our unique Tasmanian Devil. In conjunction with ARAZPA, a disease-free captive- population of devils has been established as an insurance against extinction in the wild and to help re-establish wild populations should this be required. "

Mr Llewellyn said the insurance population was one part of the conservation program which has been developed in response to the fatal facial tumour disease. "The effort to save the Tasmanian Devil would be so much harder if it wasn't for the support and goodwill of the zoo industry, wildlife experts and many other institutions around the country.  We are very pleased to be able to work co-operatively with groups such as the Taronga Foundation to continue to raise support and awareness of the plight of the devil."

Please visit the Tassie Devil Appeal at www.tassiedevilappeal.org

For more information contact Media Relations:

Ph: +61 2 9978 4606
Fax: +61 2 9978 4511
Email: tzpr@zoo.nsw.gov.au