For the first time in over 3,000 years, seven Tasmanian devil joeys have been born in mainland Australia, at a 400-hectare wild sanctuary. Aussie Ark estimates that a further 20 Tasmanian devil joeys will be born in the wild this year on top of the current seven.
“We have been working tirelessly for the better part of 10 years to return devils to the wild of mainland Australia with the hope that they would establish a sustainable population,” said Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark. “Once they were back in the wild, it was up to them, which was nerve wracking. We had been watching them from afar until it was time to step in and confirm the birth of our first wild joeys. And what a moment it was!”
For the last decade, the Aussie Ark team has been building an insurance population of Tasmanian devils and learning everything they can about the animals, including about their reproductive physiology, behavior, and ecological needs, all leading up to the 2020 reintroduction when they planned to release them back into the wild.
The 26 Tasmanian devils selected were based on those most suitable to breed with one another without any inbreeding.
Overall the breeding programme at Aussie Ark has been a huge success since it was founded in 2011, starting with 44 individuals and now having now grown to 200, which is around 50% of all the captive population across mainland Australia. Over the years, more than 390 devils have been born and raised in Aussie park, where they are nurtured in ways that will encourage their survival in the wild.
In the next two years, Aussie Ark will do two additional releases of 20 devils each back into the wild, where the animals will be fully monitored through regular surveys and radio collars fit with transmitters.