Environment Minister Robyn Parker announced today that Taronga would transfer six Tasmanian Devil joeys to Taronga Western Plains Zoo for the next phase of the Zoos’ breeding program.
Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos operate successful breeding units in the national “Save the Tasmanian Devil Program” involving 15 zoos and wildlife parks across Australia.
The Program supports the Tasmanian Government’s efforts to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction due to a rare transmissible cancer called Devil Facial Tumour Disease.
“The two Zoos have bred 35 Tasmanian Devils since the program started in 2008 and in all the wildlife parks and zoos in the program have now bred close to 600 devils towards a target of 1200,” Ms Parker said.
“Taronga will send three devils from last year’s breeding season and three younger joeys from this year to the breeding facility in Dubbo to support breeding plans there.
“Both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos will be sending breeding devils to other collaborating institutions to maximise genetic goals. This highlights the cooperative nature of the program and the zoo-based effort.
“Taronga’s breeding successes in this program demonstrate the Zoos’ remarkable abilities in endangered species management and conservation. The husbandry skills of the keepers are a major factor in the success of our part of the program.”
Ms Parker said Taronga has contributed to efforts to save the species by providing expertise in other areas.
Taronga Curator of Mammals, Paul Andrew, also advises on meta-population strategies with the “Conservation Breeding Specialist Group” and General Manager of Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Matt Fuller, sits on the “Save the Tasmanian Devil Program” steering committee as a representative of the Zoo and Aquarium Association commitment.
The Tasmanian Government last month released 15 healthy devils bred in Tasmania on Maria Island, which is disease free, the culmination of three years’ work on planning the Maria Island Translocation Project.
The release marks a significant milestone for the “Save the Tasmanian Devil Program”, being the first for several projects – landscape isolation and island translocations – aimed at maintaining healthy devils in the wild.