"About 20 Tasmanian devils will be sent to overseas zoos in an ambitious escalation of the battle against a deadly facial tumour disease that has ravaged the marsupials.
The Tasmanian government has launched a pilot project that will see up to three zoos in New Zealand and two in the US take about 20 devils to be exhibited to visitors.
Should the project prove successful, up to 100 devils will be dispersed to zoos across Europe, North America and Japan. The move follows the recent breeding of Tasmanian devils in Copenhagen Zoo where four animals, given as a state gift to Princess Mary of Denmark, who is originally from Tasmania, are kept.
It’s hoped that the delivery of Tasmanian devils to foreign zoos will raise awareness, and vital funding, for the conservation of the animals.
A deadly facial tumour disease has wiped out about 80% of Tasmania’s population of devils. In the north-east of the island, where the parasitic cancer was discovered near Mount William in 1996, about 95% of the carnivorous marsupials have died.
The facial tumour is spread by devils biting and gnawing each other, which is natural behaviour in the wild. The tumours, which cannot be treated, grow to a size that prevents the pugnacious animals hunting and eating.”
[SOURCE: Tasmania hopes foreign zoo breeding program will help save devils]
^Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is one of only three cancers known to spread like a contagious disease. A very small number of individuals are believed to be resistant to DFTD.