Saving our iconic Tasmanian Devil

on mainland Australia


raised of


The Tasmanian Devil is the world's largest surviving marsupial carnivore, with a unique jaw and tooth structure allowing them to consume bones and fur, meaning they play a critical role in the ecosystem as both top-order predators and scavengers.







Project Location:
Barrington Tops, NSW


The Project

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) has almost wiped out wild populations of the Tasmanian Devil on Australia's island state.

In NSW’s Hunter Valley, the largest mainland insurance population of endangered Tasmanian Devils has been established through a partnership between FAME and Aussie Ark, who set out with the aim of supporting a healthy population of up to 500 endangered devils. There are currently more than 150 healthy devils roaming across 13 free-range enclosures.

FAME continues to collaborate with Aussie Ark to further this vital work to ensure the survival of the species.

Why we need to act

Experts have predicted that the Tasmanian population may be extinct within the next decade without critical intervention. To prevent total extinction, healthy Tasmanian Devils must be bred on the mainland, away from the disease. This will enable the sustaining of an insurance population, but also allows for wild releases when required, or possible.

Threats to the species

Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has ravaged Tasmania's wild devils, and estimates of the impact range from 20% to as much as an 80% decline in the devil population, with over 65% of the state affected. Individual devils die within months of infection. The disease is an example of transmissible cancer, which means that it is contagious and passed from one animal to another.

Solution and approach

The total number of devils at Aussie Ark frequently changes as breeding devils are swapped with the 35 other zoos participating in the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

This ensures that a healthy, genetically diverse population of Devils are maintained at Aussie Ark. Unlike zoos with their small enclosures, the Devils at Aussie Ark are kept in a natural environment to maintain their wild behaviour. This is critical to ensure that they can be eventually released into Tasmania.

Tasmanian Devils from Aussie Ark have been released in a disease free, fenced area at Forestier Peninsula, Tasmania, and also into the 'wild' of mainland Australia near the end of 2020 at Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary.

The procedures undertaken have proved successful, as in June 2022, for the second year in a row, the devils were found to be breeding in the wild-like enclosures.

Project partners and additional funding information

FAME is a founding partner of the Aussie Ark project, and continues to support this critical work.

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