Tasmania. So who is this cute little guy? Well the Tasmanian Devil, of course. What? There really is a Tasmanian Devil and he/she lives in Tasmania? And it is not a Looney Toon cartoon (remember Taz?). Well first, let’s figure out where Tasmania is since I didn’t know until I visited there a couple of years ago.
Tasmania is an island located 150 miles off the Australian coast to the South. It is the only place in the world where the Tasmanian Devil lives in the wild. Outside of Australia, the only place to see the devils is the Copenhagen Zoo where 4 were presented as a gift when the Crown Prince of Denmark, whose Mother is Tasmanian, was born in 2005. No other zoos outside Australia have them. Weird.
Devils are the largest carnivorous marsupial (quite a mouthful). Think back to biology, marsupials are mammals that carry their young in a pouch including kangaroos, possums and wombats (which happen to be the devil’s favorite food). Being carnivorous, they consume all of their prey including bones, skin and flesh acting as a vacuum cleaner for the forests.
And they are yet another endangered species with 85% of the population being wiped out by a contagious facial cancer that spreads when the devils bite each other through mating or feeding. Scientists are trying to develop a cure and also establish disease free colonies to prevent possible extinction in the next 20 years. Let’s hope it works so you can see a devil next time you are in Tasmania!