It’s the most iconic creature of Tasmania, thanks in no small part to the Loony Tunes cartoon character of the same name. While the cartoon character Taz lives on forever, the actual Tasmanian Devil is threatened with extinction by a particularly nasty strain of transmittable mouth cancer called devil facial tumor disease, or DFTD. Only about 2000 Tasmanian devils survive in the wild; 90 percent of devils have died due to cancer since 1996 and the species teeters on the brink of extinction.
Sadly, the Tasmanian devil’s best chance at survival as a species involves the species leaving Tasmania. Uninfected wild Tasmanian devils are being captured and transported across the water to nearby Australia, where two sanctuaries for the Devil are being set up. One of these, Devil Ark in Barrington Tops, is relatively new; Healesville Sanctuary in Healesville currently has 66 disease-free Devils and maintains an active breeding program.
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