Posted on 10th May 2022 by Media Relations
Speak of the Devil - the endangered Aussie one that is!
Three of the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial have stepped out of their nest boxes and into their new public exhibit for the first time at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Situated opposite the Billabong Camp and next to the Australian walk-through exhibit, the Tasmanian Devils who are nocturnal, are best spotted in the early morning and late afternoon and can be heard well into the night. Visitors during the day should keep their eyes peeled for sleepy little whisker twitches amongst the bushes and the bright red ears that light up in the sun – one of the many reasons they received their devilish name. During the hotter summer months in Dubbo, guests will hopefully get a sneak peak of the excellent swimming skills the devils have tucked up their paws.
The three females, Pecorino, Philus and Mija all have different markings, allowing keepers and guests to identify them from one-another. Pecorino, who is completely black, came to Dubbo in 2020 and had a successful first breeding season, giving birth to four healthy joeys in 2021. Sisters Philus and Mija were born at the zoo in 2019 and both have white stripes on their chests. Philus can be identified by the small white dot on her rump, while Mija has white dots on her shoulders.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo became involved in the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program in 2008 when Australian zoos and wildlife parks committed to establishing an insurance population on the mainland. This decision was crucial at that time as an untreatable and fatal threat, the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), had spread amongst wild devils through bites, usually obtained during mating, feeding and fighting.
Since commencement of the breeding program, Taronga Western Plains Zoo has successfully bred 50 joeys in a dedicated behind-the-scenes breeding facility. The Zoo has now transitioned to an ambassador role within the region for this species as insurance population goals have been met and wild populations are exhibiting a resistance to the disease.
As an ambassador role for this species, Taronga Western Plains Zoo is still able to provide guests with a chance to see, connect with and learn more about this iconic Australian marsupial, while also dedicating resources into other significant and pressing conservation projects.
Next time you visit the Zoo, be sure to check out the Tasmanian Devils in their new home.