San Diego Zoo home to Tasmanian devils

SAN DIEGO — Four Tasmanian devils from Australia are settling into their new digs at the San Diego Zoo and will be put on public display in about two weeks, it was announced Tuesday.

tasmanian_thumbBradley, Bixby, De-Vos, and Usmar came from the Taronga Western Plains Zoo and will be placed in the San Diego Zoo’s Australian Outback beginning Oct. 24, following a mandatory 30-day quarantine. Usmar is female, the rest are males.

The San Diego Zoo is the only one in the U.S. to have the endangered species.

Tasmanian devils, native to the island state of Tasmania, are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The nocturnal hunters live in forest, woodland and agricultural areas and use their keen senses of smell and hearing to find prey or carrion. They can give off a fierce snarl and high-pitched scream, which can be heard at feeding time, to establish dominance.

They face extinction in the wild due to devil facial tumor disease, a rare, contagious cancer found only in devils. DFTD is transmitted from one animal to another through biting, a common behavior among devils when mating and feeding.

The disease kills all infected devils within six to 12 months, as there is no known cure or vaccine. The four Tasmanian devils at the San Diego Zoo are free of the disease.

The zoo is now part of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, a government initiative established 10 years ago to fight the disease.


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