The fondest goal of every zookeeper is to be able to see animals that they've nurtured and cared for reintroduced into the wild. No, I lie, the fondest dream is to have drains that are located in the lowest part of their building floors, but the reintroduction thing, that ranks somewhere in the top five, right?
This year, the Tasmanian devil joined the ranks of species in which captive bred animals have been reintroduced into the wild. Those ranks include the Arabian oryx, Kihansi spray toad, black-footed ferret, and California condor, among others. This news was paired with the announcement of increased success in the vaccination battle against the horrible disease which is decimating wild devil populations (the captive-bred, released devils have all been immunized). The future for the world's largest carnivorous marsupial is looking brighter.
And Tasmania isn't the only place where devils are on the rise. After several years of absence, the species is reappearing in American zoo collections. It's been over 15 years since I saw a Tasmanian devil in the flesh, and I look forward to seeing one again. More important than satisfying my curiosity, however, is the fact that this partnership between Australian conservationists and American zookeepers is already reaping benefits for devil conservation in the wild, as evidenced by the recent generous support of the Toledo Zoo.