donate link to home page link to home page about the disease Save the Tasmanian devil. Devil Facial Tumouir Disease threatens the existence of this internationally-recognised icon. In some areas more than 90% of the Tasmanian devil population has been wiped out.

Captive population

Overview | Insurance Population members | Free Range Enclosures (FREs)Landscape Isolation and Island Translocations | Insurance Population news |


The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program began to establish a Captive Population of Tasmanian devils in 2005, gathering animals from areas of the State where there had not been evidence of DFTD. The Captive Population is designed to ensure the survival of the species and Insurance Population animals could play an important role, if ever needed, in helping to re-establish healthy wild Devil imppopulations in Tasmania.

The Captive Population concept and parameters grew out of an international workshop held in Hobart in July 2008. Read more

On advice from the Captive Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) and the Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has determined that it needs an effective Captive Population of around 500 breeding devils to maintain the genetic diversity and behavioural integrity of the species over a period of 50 years. This target number is only required in the event that no disease free Tasmanian devils are available to supplement the Captive Population. This may mean having as many as 1,500 devils being intensively managed in captivity - a massive task.

Tasmanian devils in the Captive Population were initially isolated and housed in purpose-built quarantine enclosures before being sent to wildlife institutions in mainland Australia approved by the Zoo and Aquarium Association. The decision to remove Tasmanian devils to the mainland of Australia was based on the need to ensure that we had a healthy population of devils that was at absolutely no risk of infection from diseased wild devils. As it became clear that DFTD was not airborne, and therefore the risk of infection to captive populations was much lower than first thought, the Program instituted a locally-based Captive Population that is housed at facilities in Tasmania.


Zoo Aquarium Association logo




Captive Population members

The Program's Captive Population currently comprises:

Zoos and Wildlife Parks in Australia:

Zoos and Wildlife Parks Overseas:

Free Range Enclosures (FREs)

Devil Island Project logoFree Range Enclosures (FREs) are one of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program's favoured options for an economically and behaviourally sustainable alternative to intensive management. The devils housed in the FREs are a benefit to the Insurance Population because they tend to retain wild behaviours because of their less intensive management. There was very little known about managing Tasmanian devils in this way so the Program's experts began working through issues relating to the size of the enclosures, den construction, food sources and the numbers and sex ratio of animals to house for the best outcome. The first of the Devil Island FREs was constructed on land donated by the Devil Island Project in 2008. Devil release at new FRE in Tasmania's north eastIn partnership with Devil Island Project, the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program constructed two new FREs in 2010 and a third in 2012.

Landscape Isolation and Island Translocations

The Program is exploring options and implementing projects to isolate and protect populations of healthy devils within the landscape. The first translocation of a population of Tasmanian devils to Maria Island, an off-shore island on Tasmania's East Coast, took place in November 2012. Maria Island was chosen as the first island translocation for a number of reasons, including its large area, the fact that the habitat appears to be suitable for Tasmanian devils and that it is solely managed by the State Government.

The Program is also looking at the feasibility of ‘virtual islands' - fencing off peninsulas or other geographically suitable areas of land in Tasmania. A feasibility study has been undertaken to isolate a healthy population of Tasmanian devils in the State's far North West and projects are underway to establish healthy populations on the Tasman, Forestier and Freycinet Peninsulas. These geographical landscapes lend themselves for use as virtual islands for the protection of healthy populations or for the reintroduction of healthy animals to areas that have been decimated by Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

Captive Population News


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Tama zoo welcomes two Tasmanian devils

On Saturday 11 June, Tama Zoological Park, based just outside Tokyo, Japan, welcomed two Tasmanian devils as part of the Tasmanian Devil Ambassador Program (TDAP). read more...
Last published: 15/06/2016

Maria Island Devil Translocation Project Update July 2015

The establishment phase of the Maria Island Devil Translocation Project has been successfully completed with 28 devils released over two years and evidence that the introduced population has bred successfully over the 2013 and 2014 breeding seasons. The focus is now on monitoring the devils, along with the potential impacts of the expanding population on other native species and the Island's ecology. read more...
Last published: 02/09/2015

Recently published research into insurance populations

Recently authors Carolyn Hogg, Jamie A. Ivy, Carla Srb, Jocelyn Hockley, Caroline Lees, Chris Hibbard and Menna Jones undertook an analysis of the Insurance Population (IP) of Tasmanian devils. A report of the results has just been published. read more...
Last published: 24/07/2015

Ambassador Devils for Overseas Zoos

A pilot program which will see Tasmanian devils placed in select overseas zoos was announced by the Minister for Parks, Environment and Heritage, Brian Wightman on Sunday 23 June. The 'Ambassador Devils' initiative will raise awareness of the plight of Tasmanian devils (caused by the Devil Facial Tumour Disease) on a world stage and contribute directly to conservation of the endangered species in Tasmania. read more...
Last published: 24/06/2013

Devils bound for Copenhagen

Four captive bred Tasmanian devils from Trowunna Wildlife Park were transported yesterday to Denmark to take up residence in the Copenhagen Zoo. The devils were accompanied on the flight from Australia to Denmark by Flemming Nielsen, Curator at the Copenhagen Zoo. It is hoped the two female and two male devils eventually will produce offspring. read more...
Last published: 12/10/2012

Designing a devil road grid – A practical challenge for engineers and biologists

An experimental road grid was designed to prevent the movement of healthy devils from protected areas. Video surveillance shows that although the grid was effective in over a third of the cases, devils are very determined to go where they want to go. read more...
Last published: 25/07/2012

One mining company’s special delivery to Tasmanian devils

Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) recently donated 17 tons of used conveyor belt rubber to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) for use in its Cressy captive devil breeding enclosure. read more...
Last published: 25/07/2012

Tough Kong toy becomes a devil’s plaything

A toy developed for dogs has become the latest plaything for devils, providing an important ‘enrichment’ tool for animals held in the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program captive management centre in Hobart. read more...
Last published: 10/07/2012

Trowunna devils join Insurance Population

The Tasmanian devils at Trowunna Wildlife Park have been incorporated into the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’s Insurance Population. read more...
Last published: 19/08/2011

Devil Island Projects check out the Program’s facilities

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program hosted a visit by members of the Devil Islands Projects Board. read more...
Last published: 08/07/2011
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