Young Conservationist Meets Taronga Devils With A Swan
Friday 15th May 2009
Young Conservationist Meets Taronga Devils With A Swan

‘Nature Nic’ and Sydney Swans’ player Jared Crouch visited Taronga Zoo today to raise awareness for the plight of the Tasmanian Devil as part of “Black and White Day”.

Nature Nic, aka Nic Bonnitcha, teamed up with Jared Crouch as Taronga’s ‘Tassie Devil Ambassadors’ to a host a number of special events planned to focus public’s attention on the Devil’s plight and raise funds for Tasmanian Devil, which is facing extinction in the wild.

Nature Nic was eight years old when he founded Black and White Day in 2007. The event encourages schools and businesses across Australian and the United States of America to promote awareness of the issue by wearing the colours associated with the Tasmanian Devil, black and white, and to make a gold coin donation to aid breeding programs. To date the annual event has helped raise over $60,000.

Jared Crouch said: “Nature Nic's Black and White Day is an outstanding initiative by a young Tasmanian to raise awareness and support for our largest living marsupial carnivore which is in danger of becoming extinct without our help.”

The Tasmanian Devil is facing extinction from a rare transmissable cancer called the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) which is spread by biting, a common behaviour by Tasmanian Devils when feeding and mating. It is estimated that the disease now affects the wild Devil population across more than half of Tasmania with a 64 per cent decline in their population over the last 10 years.

Australian zoos and wildlife parks are working with the Tasmanian Government to create a separate disease free population as  insurance in the event that the cancer wipes out the species in the wild. This insurance population can then be used to repopulate Tasmania with disease-free animals in the future.

Nature Nic said: “I am very proud to be an ambassador for the Tasmanian Devils alongside Jared. I hope that today we broaden community awareness and raise enough funds to make an important contribution to help save the species.”

As part of today’s events Taronga’s Education Department has worked with Mosman High School students to create a “Black and White” trail around the Zoo. The Year Seven students will coordinate an educational trail around the Zoo where visitors and school students can learn about the species they discover along the trail. Students and visitors will also have the opportunity to hear from Nature Nic and learn about Taronga’s Devil Breeding program from a Tasmanian Devil Keeper before going on a behind-the-scenes tour to look at the work being undertaken in the breeding facility.

The Black and White Day funds will support the building of burrows and the expansion of enclosures to house the growing number of Tasmanina Devils at the Zoos.

To make a donation to Taronga's efforts to help save the Tasmanian Devil visit www.tassiedevilappeal.org