Endangered Tasmanian devils — 7 to be exact — were born in the wild on the Australian mainland for the first time in over 3,000 years.
The newborn Tasmanian devils, or “joeys,” were born at the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary in New South Wales in late May. While they’re still extremely tiny — newborn joeys weigh only about 0.20 grams at birth — they’ve given new hope for the struggling species.
Tasmanian devils were completely wiped out by dingoes (wild dogs) on the Australian mainland, and are now confined to the island of Tasmania. What’s more, in recent years the devils have suffered from a contagious facial tumor disease called Devil Facial Tumor Disease, which has decimated nearly 90% of the population. Fewer than 25,000 individuals remain.
“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,” a spokesperson for Tasmanian devil conservation organization Aussie Ark wrote on their Facebook page. The group has been working alongside organizations Re:wild and WildArk to re-introduce the devils to the mainland, and this past year released 26 devils onto the mainland. “Once they were back, it was entirely up to them. 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!”
Tasmanian devils are carnivorous marsupials about the size of a small dog. They’re known for their loud and sometimes disturbing screech, incredible sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The animals have one of the strongest bites per unit body mass of any living predatory land mammal. Visit Aussie Ark’s website to follow the conservation of these unique beasts and the progress of the joeys.