Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tasmania Devils at Healesville Sanctuary

Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is an aggressive non-viral transmissable parasitic cancer that affects Tasmanian Devils. The first "official case" was described in 1996, in Australia. In the subsequent decade the disease ravaged Tasmania's wild devils, with estimates of decline ranging from 20% to as much as a 50% of the devil population, across over 65% of the state. Affected high-density populations suffer up to 100% mortality in 12–18 months. The disease has mainly been concentrated in Tasmania's eastern half. Visible signs of DFTD begin with lesions and lumps around the mouth. These develop into cancerous tumours that may spread from the face to the entire body. The tumours interfere with feeding, and the affected animal may starve to death.

At Healesville Sanctuary they have a successful breeding programme. The main purpose of the program is to establish an insurance population that can be realised if wild Tasmanian Devil become extinct due to the spread of DFTD

The Hump Day Crew chatted to Tammika McIvor about the Tasmanian Devils and the Healesville Breeding Program success. Click here to listen.

For more information on all the happenings at the three Victorian Zoos, please visit http://www.zoo.org.au/