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Wildlife Ark to be created in Hunter Valley

Wildlife Ark to be created in Hunter Valley
July 28, 2010

The Australian Reptile Park has embarked on a massive project to provide a last refuge for Tasmanian devils.

As facial cancer continues to ravage the population in Tasmania, the Australian Reptile Park is creating the 'ark' on 350 hectares of bushland at Barrington Tops, received from a private organisation at a nominal fee,

The area is thought to be ideal for the endangered creatures as its low temperatures and elevation mimic their habitat in Tasmania.

By November, the organisers hope to have moved some 48 Tasmanian devils into the 'Devil Ark' and eventually hopes to provide a protected nature reserve for up to 1,000 Tasmanian devils.

The Devil Ark is an important component of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STTDP) insurance population strategy to avert the extinction of the Tasmanian devil. It is an initiative of the Australian Reptile Park in partnership with the Zoos and Aquaria of Australasia (ZAA) and the Foundation for Australiaâs Most Endangered Species (FAME). By breeding healthy âwild-typeâ devils within high standards of animal welfare in a wild-type environment, the Devil Ark will provide the most significant component of the mainland insurance population intended for eventual return to the Tasmanian landscape.

Recognised as one of the most ambitious breeding programs for any predator species worldwide, the mission for Devil Ark is to establish and maintain a genetically representative population of Tasmanian devils in environmentally appropriate, 'Tasmania-like' conditions while the disease runs its devastating course through the wild population. Through the provision of hundreds of large enclosures encompassing natural bushland conditions on the high-elevation Barrington Tops NSW property, the breeding program will be conducted in accordance with overarching STTDP and ZAA directions.

By establishing and maintaining a population of healthy, genetically diverse Tasmanian devils, the Devil Ark, along with the other components of the STTDP insurance population, will be able to provide a sustainable source of devils for reintroduction to the Tasmanian landscape when directed to do so.

Founder animals will be provided by the STTDP, collected from strategic locations in Tasmania, and from captive bred stock produced at mainland zoos including the Australian Reptile Park.

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