The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to welcome two, endangered male Tasmanian devils, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, to the Zoo’s diverse Australian species collection. The nearly three-year-old brothers arrived Dec. 9, from Trowunna Wildlife Park, a privately-owned wildlife sanctuary in Tasmania, Australia.
This iconic Australian species, often associated with the Looney Tune’s cartoon portrayal known to eat anything in sight and run with the fury of a tornado, is indigenous only to the island state of Tasmania. The L.A. Zoo is one of only four zoos in the United States to house Tasmanian devils in its animal collection.
“The arrival of the Tasmanian devils has been a long time coming, and we’re pleased we can help educate the public on the plight of this endangered species,” said Jeff Holland, Curator of Mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. “We appreciate everything the Trowunna Wildlife Park has done to bring the Tasmanian devils to Los Angeles so that our Zoo guests can better understand this unique and iconic species.”
The L.A. Zoo participates in a Conservation Ambassador Program, in partnership with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, in hopes of making Zoo visitors aware of this species’ conservation needs. The Tasmanian devil population has declined more than 60 percent in the last 10 years due to major survival threats caused by a large number of road kills, dog kills, being hunted by foxes, persecution by humans, low genetic diversity, and other diseases. Perhaps the largest factor responsible for the species’ decline is a fatal, infectious cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), a rapidly spreading condition among the Tasmanian devil population.
Tasmanian devils have a large head, stocky bodies, and a coat of course brown and black fur with white stripes or patches on their chest, sides, or rear end. They range from about 20 to 31 inches in size and can weigh between 9 to 26 pounds. The carnivorous species is a solitary animal that often only comes together with other Tasmanian devils to feed on the carcasses of small to medium sized prey such as snakes, birds, fish, and insects. The lifespan of a Tasmanian devil in captivity and in the wild is between five and eight years of age.
Guests can now view the brothers from Tasmania on exhibit in the Australian section of the Zoo, weather permitting.