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Tasmanian Devils in New Mexico

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There are only two places in the United States to see Tasmanian devils. The first is the San Diego Zoo. If you are up for an 800 mile drive from Albuquerque the San Diego Zoo is a wonderful place to visit. But, if you're more in the mood for an afternoon visit it just so happens that the ABQ BioPark Zoo is in your backyard and the only other facility housing the little guys in the United States. But, give them a few days to get settled in and comfortable in their new home. They will be in the Australia area close to the wombats and koalas.

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The idea is to assist in keeping them from extinction so we want them to feel safe and secure in their new lodgings. The four of them (two males and two females) arrived on December 18th direct from the Healesville Sanctuary in Australia although they are native only to Tasmania.

From the ABQ Bio Park:

"Tasmanian devils are endangered, and we're joining other conservation facilities in an effort to secure a healthy future for the species," said Rick Janser, Director of the ABQ BioPark. "We have been working with Androo Kelly, Director of Trowunna Wildlife Park, for more than 10 years to learn about these fascinating creatures. Now we are introducing Tasmanian devils to Albuquerque so we can all be part of saving them."

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) are only found on the island of Tasmania. They are the world's largest carnivorous marsupials, well known for quarreling with each other over food. Wild populations have quickly declined since devil facial tumor disease, a contagious and fatal cancer, was detected in 1996. The disease only affects Tasmanian devils and is spread through biting while squabbling over meat. In some areas, more than 80 percent of populations have been wiped out. While scientists search for a cure for the disease, zoos are raising a healthy, cancer-free insurance population.

"We are committed to saving this unique, dynamic species," said Janser. "We're excited to be part of this effort. Being selected as one of only two institutions in the United States to care for Tasmanian devils shows that the BioPark meets high standards and is a world class zoo."

While the Tasmanian devils acclimate, they will be behind-the-scenes. Zookeepers will be working on introductions between the animals, and because they are nocturnal, increasing daytime activities. A public welcoming event will be held by the end of the year. Details will be announced. The Australia exhibit is included with regular admission.

Come visit the zoo, enjoy the Tasmanian Devils and . . . Keep on Traveling!

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