Back in 2020, "Adventurous Lisa" and 10 other Tasmanian devils were reintroduced to mainland Australia having gone extinct in the region around 3,000 years ago. Now Lisa has given birth to three joeys adding to the growing populations of these little marsupials.
The 11 individuals were released by Aussie Ark with partners Re:wild, WildArk, and the Australian Reptile Park in an event that included actors Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Patak. Thanks to the reintroduction of 21 additional adults and the birth of 16 joeys, the population is growing healthily. The news of original devil Lisa’s triplets is a very good indication.
“We were in the middle of routine devil health checks when we were overjoyed to discover Lisa had joeys,” Tim Faulkner, Aussie Ark managing director, said in a statement. “This is the very first confirmed devil joeys of 2023, and proof yet again that our breeding program and rewilding program is working.”
The team estimates that 45 new joeys will be born in the wild sanctuary this year, a record number and a testament to the efforts of Aussie Ark and its partners' understanding of how to best care for and support these animals as they are reintroduced. Tasmanian devils are the largest carnivore marsupials living today but in Australia, they were outcompeted by dingoes around 3,000 years ago.
They remain extant on the island of Tasmania but even there they have become endangered. A transmissible, painful, and fatal disease called Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD)—the only known contagious cancer—decimated up to 90 percent of the wild population of Tasmanian devils.
The reintroduction of the devils also helps to control invasive feral cats and foxes whose presence in Australia threatens other endangered and endemic species. They are also clean animals, so as scavengers, they help keep their territory clean and free of disease.
“This is a great example of how returning a species to its wild home can rewild the entire ecosystem,” said Janice Chanson, Re:wild senior associate of species conservation. “This is particularly important in combatting climate change and biodiversity loss and in improving the overall health of our planet. Aussie Ark is also providing a model for how we can effectively rewild struggling ecosystems around the world.”
Before further reintroduction beyond the sanctuary, Aussie Ark plans to reintroduce more species that will help restore the natural balance of the ecosystem: Eastern quolls, Brush-tail rock wallabies, Rufous bettongs, long-nosed potoroos, parma wallabies, and southern brown bandicoots.