When I was young one of my favorite cartoon characters was that crazy Tasmanian devil in the Looney Tunes cartoon series. Funny enough many people think this is what a real one looks like. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d see one. Ever. When I moved to Tasmania I knew I would get my chance.
I visited the Tasmanian devil conservation park in Taranna just near Port Arthur and I made a life long dream come true. Here are some facts about Tasmanian devils:
- Tasmanian devils are meat eating marsupials.
- While now found only on the island of Tasmania they once roamed widely across Australia and on islands around the coast.
- Recently Tasmanian devils have suffered greatly from a mysterious cancer that appears to be passed directly from animal to animal by biting.
- The disease causes terrible tumors around the face and is always fatal, killing the host about five months after the first signs of the disease.
- Around half the wild devil population has succumbed in the last 10 years.
Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, which is the only wildlife center in an isolated disease-free area, is involved in a number of research projects to help solve the problem.
I visited the park during feeding time which was a great way to see the animals behavior while eating and to gain some insight from the knowledgeable staff.
I was introduced to these two brothers, of whom I have forgotten their names, but I know they are 2 years old. I proceeded to give them a modeling shoot.
The devils were very excited as they knew it was feeding time and so were pacing to and fro, running around and whining.
I recorded some video of their feeding- they have the most incredible jaws. Watch this.
The answer to the question in the video is at the end of this post, so keep reading. There are more pretty animal pictures!
And later on, I saw these two dozing away the afternoon.
Followed by this fellow giving a roar, of which I was unprepared for hence the blurry shot- these guys are really fast!
After the devil feeding it was time to feed the Eastern Quoll- another marsupial which has become extinct on the Australian mainland but seems to be doing well in Tasmania. They are around the size of a cat and have been known to scavenge food from the devils.
These little quolls are lightning fast and can scamper up a tree to get food faster than you can say g’day.
They seemed quite gentle compared to the devils- the ranger was inside the enclosure whereas when he fed the devils he just threw the food in. I would have loved to get closer but there was a wire fence so I had to make do.
Also roaming free in a vast enclosure were a mob of Forester kangaroos, Tasmania’s only kangaroo. They are usually seen in a group-or mob. Curious creatures, they stared at us as we snapped photos of them. I saw a few in the wild on a camping trip a week before, but this was a very large group. And they were much closer as they are used to visitors.
They have such pensive stares.
I am not a big fan of zoos- I believe animals should be left wild as they are. I do believe in conservation work however and I love what this park does to raise awareness of the plight of the Tasmanian devils. I was also able to see a few birds and sadly forgot to write down their names, like this gorgeous one:
These birds were so beautiful. Incredible. If anyone knows what they are called, please post up in the comments.
The grey goshawk below is listed as threatened and mates for life. The white goshawk is the only bird of prey in the world to be entirely white.
Recently there has been some great news in treating the tumors found on the tassie devils and you can read about the work researchers are doing using a plant from the Queensland rainforest here.
If you are curious about the life and history of the devil you can read more at the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife page here.
I feel honored I was able to see these healthy animals and be a part of helping the conservation work with my entrance fee contribution. I also purchased some little souvenirs for my niece who was fascinated by their story. Hopefully they will find a definite cure so that she might be able to see a devil some day.
AND- The answer to the question in the video is: there were never any Koalas in Tasmania!