US devil exhibition opened

A new international Tasmanian devil exhibition has been officially opened at the San Diego Zoo today.

The world-renowned facility is the first international zoo in the world to receive Tasmanian devils under the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program's Ambassador devil initiative, which is designed to deliver significant benefits for the conservation of the devil.

Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Brian Wightman, who attended the opening, said it was hoped that the exhibit could raise awareness of the plight of the endangered Tasmanian, and signified the start of an overseas expansion of the Tasmanian devil programme.

The four devils were transferred from Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo to San Diego earlier this month - the first of a number of devils to be placed in overseas zoos over the coming year under a pilot project.

The devils were selected from the Insurance Population of more than 600 healthy devils held in a range of facilities around Australia.

"They are no longer required for their genetic contribution to guard against the species' extinction in Australia and will be used instead to publicise the Tasmanian devil and its fight against the deadly devil facial tumour disease on a world stage," Mr Wightman said.

He said that the devil initiate would be trialled at San Diego and Albuquerque Zoo in the US, and at three zoos in New Zealand before potentially being expanded to other zoos in North America, Europe and Asia.

Mr Wightman was invited to the opening, and all his expenses were covered by the zoo.

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