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Devil Ark keepers delighted with small unexpected devil

March 14, 2014 Headline News, Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Keepers at Devil Ark in the Barrington Tops region of NSW are delighted to have discovered a tiny male joey, born months outside of the normal breeding period.

The extraordinary find was made in late December whilst performing a routine health check on the devil’s mother.

Tassie Devil

Tassie Devil

Devil Ark, developed in conjunction with the Australian Reptile Park, is part of a coordinated Australia-wide Tasmanian devil “insurance breeding” program to help ensure the survival and sustainability of the species in the wild. The Tasmanian devil has suffered a dramatic population decline due to devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) – a rare contagious cancer that threatens the survival of one of the world’s most charismatic animal species.

A joey is usually only found in the pouch until October, so Devil Ark’s joey has been named “Lucky” by his keepers.

“He’s a great little ambassador for Devil Ark and also his endangered species, under threat of extinction from Devil Facial Tumour Disease,” a keeper said.

Devil Ark is in the midst of its fourth breeding season, which runs from February to June each year. Up to four joeys remain in the pouch for around four months. Lucky’s mother, Kira, is thought to have had a joey in her first breeding cycle (called oestrus) last February and mated again in October, four months after the breeding season ends.

“Lucky’s a feisty little bloke and he’s doing well, drinking formula and putting on weight,” a Devil Ark spokesman said.

There are positive signs for a successful 2014 breeding season at Devil Ark, with females showing signs of mating and males guarding dens. Pouch checks will be undertaken in June and final breeding numbers will be determined late this year. Devil Ark has just launched Feed a Devil Day which sees schools and corporate workplaces raising money for Devil Ark in June. It costs AUD 2 a day to feed a devil at Devil Ark and there are almost 200 at Devil Ark.

With the transmissible cancer showing no signs of slowing down and no vaccine or cure in sight, “insurance breeding” is recognised as the Tasmanian devil’s best chance of long term survival.

Edited by : Peter Needham

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