News / Science & Technology

San Diego Zoo Helps Endangered Tasmanian Devils

San Diego Zoo Helps Endangered Tasmanian Devilsi
X
June 27, 2014 2:30 AM
The Tasmanian Devil, an animal native to the Australian state of Tasmania, has become endangered by a rare contagious cancer. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the San Diego Zoo is part of an international effort to save the species.
Mike O'Sullivan

The Tasmanian Devil, an animal native to the Australian state of Tasmania, has become endangered by a rare contagious cancer. But now the San Diego Zoo is part of an international effort to save the species.

The Tasmanian Devil is known to children as a character in a cartoon, but the real devil is an iconic animal the size of a small dog in Tasmania.
Last October, four devils arrived at the San Diego Zoo. 

A nocturnal animal, it has left its outdoor habitat this early morning and returned to the enclosure called its nest box.  Senior keeper Jennifer Roesler says these meat-eaters play an important role in maintaining the natural balance of their native habitat.

“In the wild, they would generally eat kangaroo or any road kill, wombats, depending on where they are in Tasmania, but here in the San Diego Zoo, we feed them rats, mice, rabbits - a carnivore diet.”

She says devils in San Diego are adapting to their new environment.
”When we bring them in in the mornings, we usually give them a reward, generally a mouse.”

This reporter observed one savoring a dead mouse, eating the head and body, and finally gobbling down the tail.

These Tasmanian Devils are healthy, but between 40 and 90 percent of Tasmanian devils in the wild, depending on the region of Tasmania, have been killed by a rare cancer that is contagious.

Researchers in Australia are working to save the devils, says the San Diego Zoo Chief Life Sciences Officer Robert Wiese.

“They have over 500 that are in breeding programs that are disease-free and are available to be put out in the wild, and they are starting to do reintroduction programs at this time.”

He says the disease, first noticed in the 1990s, has devastated the devil population.

“There is still a part up in the northwest part of Tasmania where the disease has not reached yet, but it is anticipated it will reach there very quickly.  And the disease is 100 percent fatal, as far as we know,” said Wiese.

As researchers try to understand the killer cancer, zoo workers in San Diego care for four healthy members of this threatened species.  Four other Tasmanian Devils are housed at the Albuquerque BioPark in the U.S. state of New Mexico.   

 

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid