Click on image to enlarge Taronga Western Plains Zoo today confirmed that at least five joeys have been born from the 12 wild-caught Tasmanian Devils brought into the Zoo in late 2007. Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, the Hon. Verity Firth MP, said the birth of the joeys at Taronga Western Plains Zoo is a positive sign for the program and the species which is at risk of becoming extinct because of the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) in Tasmania. "The joeys are almost 100 days old with their black fur and distinctive white markings now becoming more visible," said Ms Firth. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is one of eight mainland zoos and wildlife parks involved in the national effort to establish an insurance population on the mainland free of DFTD. "The successful first breeding season is evidence these wild-caught animals have settled into their new environment well and with confirmation of joeys in the pouch at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Taronga Zoo and the Australian Reptile Park, NSW's contribution to the mainland insurance population is growing and developing well as insurance for this species," said Ms Firth. The Devil Facial Tumour Disease was first discovered in 1996 and has resulted in a decline of over 50% of the wild Tasmanian Devil population since the emergence of the disease. The insurance population on the mainland will continue to participate in controlled breeding with the aim to boost Tasmania Devil numbers in the wild once the risk of the disease has diminished. "Taronga Western Plains Zoo is playing a significant role in the development of the disease-free insurance population as part of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program coordinated by the Tasmanian Government, which is developing strategies to manage DFTD in conjunction with wildlife and disease experts from Australia and around the world," said Ms Firth. Taronga Conservation Society Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Guy Cooper said: "The expert management of the insurance population at both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoo has seen positive results in this first breeding season." "This is a result of our keepers' exemplary animal management and husbandry practice as well as their overwhelming dedication to ensure the survival of this species for years to come," said Mr Cooper. "Our involvement in this national effort to save the species will continue to grow with plans to build a second off-display Tasmanian Devil breeding facility alongside the current facility at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in the near future," said Mr Cooper. The Tasmanian Devil is now listed as an endangered species.