First Tasmanian devils born wild in mainland Australia in 3,000 years

The first Tasmanian devils born in the wild in mainland Australia in 3,000 years are now nestled inside their mother's pouch. According to the animal conservation nonprofit Aussie Ark, seven of the babies, called joeys, were born to parents that the organization had released into the wild just nine months ago. From CNN:

Tasmanian devils died out on the mainland after the arrival of dingoes – a species of wild dog – and were restricted to the island of Tasmania. However, their numbers suffered another blow from a contagious form of cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), which has killed around 90% of the population since it was discovered in 1996.

Last September, Aussie Ark introduced 11 of the creatures back into the wild in mainland Australia, following an earlier trial involving 15 of the marsupials, bringing the total of Tasmanian devils on the mainland to 26.

And now, just months after their release, the creatures have successfully reproduced – and conservationists have identified the tiny marsupials, which they say are the size of shelled peanuts, inside the pouches of the mothers.

image: JJ Harrison/ (CC BY-SA 3.0)