Tasmanian Devils Rebranded for Conservation
Tasmanian Devils Aren't Monsters, Say Conservationists
Tasmanian devils are falling victim to contagious facial tumors which prevent them from eating. Afflicted Tasmanian devils will then starve to death. An obstacle to conservation efforts is the widespread perception that the little marsupials are vicious monsters, as characterized by the Tasmanian Devil, star of Warner Bros cartoons and sketchy tattoos.
- Tasmanian Devil upgraded to the endangered species list
- Tasmanian Devils Decimated by Facial Tumors
- Tasmanian devil breeds early to beat cancer
Breeding centers have been set up on the Australian mainland as a sort of species-insurance policy, mating pairs of uninfected devils. Also, Sydney's Taronga Zoo is ramping up a rebranding campaign to show the devils as they really are: timid and "relaxed" creatures that don't attack inanimate objects, spin around, or in any other way act like cartoon characters.
Tasmanian devils only appear in the wild in Tasmania; their population is estimated to be around 50,000.
The animals, named by British settlers for their ear-splitting screams and strong jaws, were immortalised by the cartoon character Taz as slavering, demented and ravenous.
[Tony Britt-Lewis, Zoo Employee]:
"There's no immune response whatsoever by the devils that get it and so because it's so easily spread the population is dropping drastically."
Educating the public is central to the zoo's mission. The more people know about the devils' plight, they say, the better its chances of survival.