The Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian devil’s forbidding expression, black color and terrible scream helped them earn the “devil” nickname. These animals are only found on the island of Tasmania, not mainland Australia.
The devil is built like a robust, small to medium sized dog with black all over and white marks on their chest and sometimes rump. They are the largest living marsupial carnivore in the world, feeding on small mammals and birds. The males weigh about 18 pounds and average 2 feet in length, while females weigh about 13 pounds and average 20 inches in length. The lifespan of the Tasmanian devil is short, typically 6 years in wild and 8 years in captivity.
The IUCN and conservation groups in Australia both list the Tasmanian devil as “Endangered” due to communicable cancerous facial tumors which have decimated wild populations.
Watch the Toledo Zoo’s new Tasmanian devil’s explore their new exhibit located by Tembo Trail. The exhibit is open now so make sure you get a chance to see our energetic devil’s.
Devil Conservation at the Toledo Zoo
The Toledo Zoo is partnering with Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to study and help conserve devils in Tasmania. The main goal of the program is to maintain an enduring and ecologically functional population of Tasmanian devils in the wild. Save the Tasmanian Devil Program seeks to achieve this goal by maintaining populations in the wild, maintaining the genetic diversity of captive populations and managing the ecological impacts of a reduced devil population over its natural range. Sales of devil related items in our gift shop, Zoo PAL adoptions of devils and Conservation Today fundraising will all support the Zoo’s research and conservation efforts in Tasmania.
Toledo Zoo staff is cooperating with the Save the Devil Program in Tasmania in a multi-faceted, re-introduction program to save the Tasmanian devil species. In this collaborative effort, Toledo Zoo staff will travel to private and government facilities in Tasmania to meet with staff and discuss veterinary plans, track devils in the wild and learn best practices for handling, caring for and releasing devils.
Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD)
This disease is an aggressive parasitic cancer that effects the facial region of the Tasmanian devils. This cancer is non-viral but transmittable to other devils and has ravaged Tasmania’s wild populations. The disease spreads among the Tasmanian devils through biting, ingesting infected tissue or sharing food sources. Signs of DFTD begin with small lesions and lumps around the mouth and the nose and can spread to other parts of the body. The devils will die within six months of showing symptoms from organ failure after as the lesions begin to form cancerous tumors
Although there is no evidence of a clear cause of the cancer, an extensive amount of research is being done to find a cure for the disease. Currently, researchers are monitoring the spread of the disease with field observations, surveying techniques and trail camera studies to determine presence of tumors. By working with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, the Toledo Zoo can help mitigate the effects of this disease on the overall population of Tasmanian Devils.
In addition to animal capturing, data is collected by trail cameras that are set across Tasmania to capture images of devils in the wild. These images are used to track the spread of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease.
Dr. Samantha Fox (Left)
Adjunct researcher for the Toledo Zoo, Dr. Fox is a wildlife biologist and team leader for the Save the Tasmanian Devils Program in Tasmania, Australia. She participates in a significant amount of research on the Tasmanian devil’s and is an important part of the Toledo Zoo’s conservation mission.