Taronga Zoo’s Tasmanian Devil keepers got their first hands-on check today of three little Tasmanian Devil joeys, the first to be born at Taronga this breeding season. The youngsters, born to second-time mother, Nina, were snuggled tightly in their maternal nest and keepers gently lifted them out to check their body condition and determine their sex.
Tasmanian Devil keeper Tony Britt-Lewis said: “We have known for some time that Nina was carrying joeys in her pouch, and now they’re older, Nina will leave them alone in her nest which is the perfect opportunity for us to do an overall check. We were really happy to discover that of the three, one is a female, and she will play a vital role in the breeding program in the future. The other two are males and one of them is already showing signs of being very feisty.”
With Tasmanian Devils under threat from extinction due to a contagious cancer that causes fatal facial tumours, the birth of these three joeys is encouraging for the species and for the network of mainland zoos managing insurance populations. Sadly, the fate of wild Tasmanian Devils is not promising, with the species listed as endangered. Field monitoring has shown a dramatic fall in the population of devils since the disease emerged in 1996. After getting the disease, devils generally do not live longer than six months.
Britt-Lewis added, “After successfully mothering a litter of four joeys last year, Nina is definitely a great mum. This year’s litter makes a total of seven offspring, proving she is a significant contributor to the insurance breeding program for this iconic Australian species.”