High in the hills of Barrington
Tops in NSW is Devil Ark
– a conservation breeding
program for the Tasmanian
devil.

The iconic Tasmanian marsupial is
at serious risk of extinction from the
highly contagious devil facial tumour
disease (DFTD).

To prevent extinction, healthy
Tasmanian devils must be bred
away from the disease to form an
insurance population.

A dark future for the devils

Since the discovery of DFTD in 1996,
Tasmanian devil numbers have
plummeted. Only 15% of the original
population survives in the wild.
Infection means certain death for
the devil – but only after a horrific
illness. Starvation, dehydration and
the breakdown of vital organs kills
the devil within six months of them
contracting DFTD.

Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease graph

 

 

How to save the devil?

The race is on to breed large numbers of Tasmanian devils away from the disease-front. It is also critical that these devils are genetically diverse and are raised in a way to ensure they can be released
into Tasmania once DFTD has run its destructive course.

This is where Devil Ark plays a vital role.

Why is Devil Ark so special?

Devil Ark is the largest conservation
breeding program for the Tasmanian
devil on mainland Australia.

At an altitude of 1,350 metres,
Devil Ark provides the perfect
breeding environment for devils. The
Tasmanian-like vegetation and cool,
wet and snowy conditions means
the devils feel right at home!

Devil Ark is very different to a zoo
where small enclosures mean loss of
natural behaviour. Devils at Devil Ark
are kept in a natural environment to
maintain their wild behaviour and
our keepers intervene as little as
possible. This means a cost-effective
and devil-friendly approach.

 

Devil Ark is acknowledged as the key to the Tasmanian devil’s long-term survival!

Find out why Tasmanian devils are in rapid decline

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Status of Tasmanian devils in the wild

The unfolding demise of the Tasmanian devil has exceeded ‘normal’ worst-case epidemics and continues to do so.
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The dirt on DFTD

DFTD is one of the only cancers known to spread as a contagious disease. The cancer is spread from devil to devil primarily through biting.
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Possibility of disease resistance
in the northwest

Despite media portrayal of scientific 'breakthroughs', long-term survival will still rely upon the preservation of genetically varied devils from as wide a geographic range as possible.
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The crucial role of captive breeding

The aim of the 'insurance population’ is to establish and maintain healthy, genetically diverse Tasmanian devils for successful release into the wild when required.
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The devil's in the details:
more about Devil Ark

Since the development of the Devil Ark concept, the Australian Reptile Park has been busy working with a range of partners to create this ambitious breeding program.
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More about Devil Ark founders and partners

Devil Ark is being developed by the Australian Reptile Park in partnership with the Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered Species.
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