Biodiversity: Pickles and cheese inspire conservationists

A pair of Tasmanian devil twins thrills conservationists in Australia: the two baby animals, christened Pickles and Cheese, were born four months ago as part of a breeding program by the Aussie Ark organization to conserve the species endemic Down Under.

Biodiversity: Pickles and cheese inspire conservationists

A pair of Tasmanian devil twins thrills conservationists in Australia: the two baby animals, christened Pickles and Cheese, were born four months ago as part of a breeding program by the Aussie Ark organization to conserve the species endemic Down Under. They are currently being hand-reared by zookeeper Billy Collett at the Australian Reptile Park north of Sydney. In eight months they are to be released in a protected area.

Aussie Ark said pickles and cheese have already won the hearts of all employees. "I'm lacking some sleep right now because feeding these guys every few hours is hard work. But I wouldn't change a thing," said Collett. The two already showed clear personality traits. "They love to mess around, play with each other and climb everything," says the replacement dad.

The Aussie Ark has had a very successful breeding season this year. A total of 53 Tasmanian devils were born, nine of them in the wild of the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary. Until 2020, the aggressive "Tasmanian Devils", weighing up to eight kilograms, only existed on the island of Tasmania, to which they also owe their name. There, however, their existence was threatened because of a type of cancer. Aussie Ark started their own breeding program for the iconic animals.

In 2020, the organization, along with other conservation groups, released 28 of the black animals, who showed no signs of disease, at a reserve north of Sydney. Then last year the good news: the animals multiplied. About 3000 years after the Tasmanian devils died out on the mainland, young ones - so-called "joeys" - were born again in freedom for the first time.

The animals have been under protection since 1941. Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) have an extremely strong bite. Characteristic are the red ears, a wild screeching and a foul smell that the animals emit when excited.

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