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Tasmanian Devils Coming to Albuquerque This Winter


Zoo is one of only two U.S. facilities to house devils.

Tasmanian Devils Coming to Albuquerque This Winter

A Tasmanian devil. Photo courtesy of Trowunna Wildlife Park.

Updated November 25, 2013

This winter, Albuquerque will be home to four Tasmanian devils. (Video below.) The ABQ BioPark Zoo will be one of only two facilities in the United States to exhibit the endangered marsupials. Travel details are still being arranged, but two males and two females will most likely travel from Healesville Sanctuary in Australia to Albuquerque sometime in December or January. They will live near the Tasmanian wombats and koalas in the Zoo’s Australia exhibit.

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) are the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials and found in the wild only on the Australian island state of Tasmania. Wild populations have declined by more than 60% in the last ten years due to a fatal, contagious cancer called devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). The devils coming to Albuquerque are part of a cancer-free insurance population. The ABQ BioPark will work to raise awareness about Tasmanian devils and help with research and conservation efforts.

“We are excited to introduce Albuquerque and the rest of the United States to Tasmanian devils,” said Rick Janser, BioPark Director. “We started working with Androo Kelly, Director of Trowunna Wildlife Park, over ten years ago to learn about Tasmanian devils and how we could be part of saving these ferocious and fascinating little animals.”

The ABQ BioPark staff have been preparing for the possible arrival of Tasmanian devils since 2002. Members of BioPark staff have participated in training courses and exchanges with professionals in Australia. In March, Zoo Manager Lynn Tupa spent a week in the first part of a training course on devils; she returns to Tasmania this fall for another week of training. Director Janser is the species coordinator and studbook keeper for the Tasmanian Devil Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). He also serves on the steering committee for AZA’s Marsupial and Monotreme Taxon Advisory Group.

The New Mexico BioPark Society supports conservation in the wild through its donations to Save the Tasmanian Devils. The Zoo’s non-profit partner will also fund the exhibit construction and travel expenses for the two pairs of Tasmanian devils coming to Albuquerque.

Tasmania’s Environment Minister Brian Wightman announced today that the devils would be heading abroad as part of the country’s international program to raise awareness and conservation funding for Tasmanian Devils. In addition to the four Tasmanian devils coming to Albuquerque, four devils will go to San Diego Zoo and another four will go to Wellington Zoo in New Zealand.

Tasmanian Devil Video

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