(Well, stranger things have happened…)
A FURTIVE rustling in the undergrowth at the Australian Reptile Park on the Central Coast holds the key to the survival of Tasmanian Devil.
The fractious beasts have been coaxed into copulation this week, in the hope that captive breeding can help sustain the genetic diversity of the threatened population.
“If we don’t produce we could see a catastrophe, so there is a lot riding on this,” said Tim Faulkner, head keeper of mammals and birds at the park.
Tasmanian Devils have been in peril since the mid-1990s when a facial tumour disease began ravaging their numbers across the island state.
Wild devils have no answer to the disease, because their inherently low level of genetic diversity due to chronic inbreeding leaves them unable to recognise tumours as a foreign intrusion….
If this year’s breeding program is successful, up to two dozen young devils could be produced, the foundation of a new population that could be re-introduced into Tasmania.
More from SMH.
PS: If you think that cute thing above could never be called ‘fractious’, look below…