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Devilish New Exhibit at Orana Wildlife Park

Orana Wildlife Park MEDIA RELEASE – For Immediate Release

Devilish New Exhibit at Orana Wildlife Park

Tasmanian devils have arrived in Christchurch! Evelyn, Harris, Brodie and Pumba (all aged 3) were transferred from Healesville Sanctuary (near Melbourne) last week. The animals have been introduced to their new home, New Zealand’s largest Tasmanian devil habitat, which will be officially opened by Christchurch’s Deputy Mayor, Vicki Buck, on Saturday morning.

Tasmanian devils are the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupials and are called devils because of their terrifying night-time screams! They are famous for their rowdy communal feeding at carcasses. These nocturnal animals live for only seven years.

Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson, says: “We are very excited by the arrival of the devils. These amazing animals have been on our wish list for over ten years being a highly charismatic endangered species. Our exhibit is a significant addition to the Park being the first major new development since the earthquakes struck. Last year, Park staff travelled to Tasmania to complete Tasmanian devil husbandry training so keepers are thrilled to now put that practice into action.
Orana is one of only five zoos selected internationally to join the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. An offshore population is being established as a backstop should the disease currently affecting wild devils not be contained.”

Androo Kelly, a representative of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, arrived this afternoon for the opening of Orana’s habitat. Androo is Director of Trowunna Wildlife Park (Tasmania), the pre-eminent captive devil breeding centre. Androo says: “it is a privilege to be included in the ceremony and to celebrate with Lynn and her team our ten year collaboration on this project! The finished facility is fantastic; I am looking forward to working with the Orana team to get the best out of the devils for advocacy purposes.”

Tasmanian devils are classified as endangered. The cause of their demise is a rare contagious cancer called Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). The fatal disease has led to a population decline of over 60%, though this statistic is far higher in some regions of Tasmania. The main aim of the Program is to investigate the disease and determine management options to ensure the survival of the devils. Another aim is to secure a captive insurance population of healthy, genetically robust animals.

“Orana’s role is to support the programme through conservation advocacy – educating the public on the plight of these animals. Conservation messages conveyed at the habitat (consistent with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program) will also link to threats to New Zealand native wildlife. Devils suffer from road kill, just like some New Zealand native species, so part of the messaging relates to slowing down on roads to protect our wildlife. Another way visitors can directly assist is to purchase Tasmanian devil themed merchandise from our retail shop. Proceeds are directed towards further researching the disease.

As a charitable trust, Orana raises 100% of funds for each new development. We sincerely thank everyone who donated towards this project; their contribution has helped us bring these endearing, carnivorous marsupials, to Christchurch!” concludes Lynn.

- ENDS -

Fast facts about Tasmanian devils
• They are the size of a small dog.
• Mark their territory with a stink as bad as a skunk!
• Babies are called imps.
• They live for only 7 years
• They give a sneeze to stop a fight!
• Tasmanian devils are nocturnal
• Can eat up to 40% of their body weight in 30 minutes
• They can open their mouth to almost 80 degrees

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