City of ABQ Welcomes Tasmanian Devil to Zoo

By on December 26, 2013

The ABQ BioPark Zoo is welcoming its newest residents, four Tasmanian devils. The animals will be behind-the-scenes as they settle into their new home. Soon, visitors will be able to see them in the Australia area near koalas and wombats.

On December 18, two females and two males are arriving from Healesville Sanctuary in Australia. The animals are part of a conservation program to save Tasmanian devils from extinction.

“Tasmanian devils are endangered, and we’re joining other conservation facilities in an effort to secure a healthy future for the species,” said Rick Janser, Director of the ABQ BioPark. “We have been working with Androo Kelly, Director of Trowunna Wildlife Park, for more than 10 years to learn about these fascinating creatures. Now we are introducing Tasmanian devils to Albuquerque so we can all be part of saving them.”

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) are only found on the island of Tasmania. They are the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials, well known for quarreling with each other over food. Wild populations have quickly declined since devil facial tumor disease, a contagious and fatal cancer, was detected in 1996. The disease only affects Tasmanian devils and is spread through biting while squabbling over meat. In some areas, more than 80 percent of populations have been wiped out. While scientists search for a cure for the disease, zoos are raising a healthy, cancer-free insurance population.

“We are committed to saving this unique, dynamic species,” said Janser. “We’re excited to be part of this effort. Being selected as one of only two institutions in the United States to care for Tasmanian devils shows that the BioPark meets high standards and is a world class zoo.”

While the Tasmanian devils acclimate, they will be behind-the-scenes. Zookeepers will be working on introductions between the animals, and because they are nocturnal, increasing daytime activities. A public welcoming event will be held by the end of the year. Details will be announced. The Australia exhibit is included with regular admission.

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