Australia: See Tasmanian Devils up close

[email protected] is the Tasmanian Devil sanctuary at Cradle Mountain – one of a series across Tasmania working hard to save this incredible beastie from annihilation via Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).

I signed up for the night feeding session at 5.30pm (costs $27.50) and went along for a look expecting a bit of information and obviously to see some devils. I know there are Tasmanian Devils at various mainland Australia zoos but because they are nocturnal scavengers I’ve not seen one awake in a zoo enclosure.

After a welcome the evening starts off with this weird American-voiced-over film about Tasmania and Tasmanian Devils – great scenery but it gave a strong impression of aggressively unpleasant creatures.

Then the keeper started talking, and boy could he talk. This is someone highly passionate and highly knowledgeable about the Tasmanian Devil. It was VERY scientific and half of it went straight over my unscientific head but I didn’t mind because it was so surprisingly and refreshingly not ‘dumbed down’.

The effect of DFTD has been devastating, with rapid and tragic ‘progress’ of the situation since its discovery in 1996. Some areas of Tasmania are now reporting 98% loss of Tasmanian Devil population. They are staring down the barrel of extinction in the wild.

It was fascinating to hear about the causes of DFTD and how they are trying to combat it by diversifying the genetic pool of devils across Tasmania. An important lesson on the impact of altering a carefully balanced eco-system or food chain.

Tasmanian Devil

Then he brought in a young Tasmanian Devil and we all got to stroke it – we were all very quiet so as not to alarm it and it just cuddled into the keepers arms.

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil table manners have to be seen to be believed and the four devils in the enclosure absolutely destroyed the piece of kangaroo served up after chasing the keeper for it. But the overall impression was to dispel the negative impression created by the initial film.

Tasmanian Devil

There are also a number of beautiful Quolls on display and we also got to watch them eating. Two young males put on an exuberant ‘mating challenge’ display.

This is a great little centre, doing important work and well worth a visit when at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.

By Natasha von Geldern

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19 Replies to “Australia: See Tasmanian Devils up close”

    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      If they didn’t make such godawful noises in the dark they’d be on everyone’s cutest animal list – and not called Devils! They are in serious decline in the wild though, let’s hope the scientists can turn the tide.

      Reply
  1. Laurence

    I never saw these chaps whilst out in Tassie, other than in scary posters. I suspect it’s sadly not going to be long before we’re only able to see them in print 🙁

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      The little guys are in real trouble but there are some good people who are passionate about saving them so here’s hoping this won’t be a post about extinct-in-the-wild Tasmanian Devils in a few years!

      Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      I thought they were quite scary too, or mad, but this gave me a new picture of them altogether.

      Reply
  2. Peter

    There are some really good breeding program being done on the mainland of Australia to help produce a tassie devil population free of the horrible disease killing them. So the good news (if it can be called ‘good’) is even if they become extinct on the island, the species shouldn’t be lost for good. Hats of the scientists and volunteers behind it!

    Reply
  3. Laurel

    I’ve heard about this place and when I looked into it a couple of years ago they had volunteer opportunities as well. I would love to volunteer with tasmanian devils, they’re so fascinating!

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      It was completely fascinating and I was so impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff. I think you’d learn a lot volunteering there!

      Reply
  4. mery [email protected] Walking Guide

    Hi Natasha,
    All pics are very nice and of-course these animal are known by their awful voice but they are really so beautiful as other animals. So i think we shouldn’t call them Devils. Please never mind if anybody got hurt by this but i never mean like this.
    Thanks Natasha and all.

    Reply

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