Devils bound for New Zealand

The first shipment of Tasmanian devils will arrive at New Zealand's Wellington Zoo today as part of the overseas Ambassador Devil initiative.

The four devils - two two-year-old females and a one-year-old male and female - left Hobart this morning to one of the three New Zealand zoos - including Orana Park in Christchurch and Auckland Zoo - selected by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Brian Wightman said the devils' department marked the next step in the expansion of the conservation program to include New Zealand along with North America.

Mr Wightman said the devils were selected from the Insurance Population of over 600 healthy devils which are being held in a range of institutions around Australia and were no longer required for their genetic contribution.

“They are fifth generation captive animals, descendants of two orphan devils cared for at Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary in 1992 before the emergence of the disease,” he said.

Mr Wightman said the devils were accompanied on their flight by one of Wellington Zoos devil carers, Kristin Kennedy, who spent the past week at Trowunna getting to know the devils.

“We are very keen to raise awareness about the Tasmanian devil, which is such a unique and loveable character, and to help support its recovery from the brink of extinction,” she said.

In October, four devils were sent to San Diego Zoo in the US as part of the program.

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