Sydney’s Taronga Zoo has begun a crucial series of health checks on some of its newest furry residents.

The Tassie Devil joeys are being monitored closely for a disease which is wiping out the species.

Wendy Serrano reports.


Since 1996, about eighty per cent of Tasmanian Devils have been killed by Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

This infectious cancer is spread by animals biting each other.

Taronga Zoo keepers had their first hands on check of these feisty babies today.

Part of an insurance breeding program, the animals have been micro-chipped, had blood samples removed for testing and will have their DNA looked at.

It’s all aimed at maintaining their population on Australia’s mainland.

Kathy Belov, Tasmania University: “The aim of that program is to maintain that genetic diversity in captivity safe and away from disease for about 30 years.”

The Tassie Devils are biting off more than they can chew with research showing this could be the key to slowing the spread of the fatal disease.

Scientists at the University of Tasmania have found Devils with more bites were actually less likely to have the disease.

The next stage of research will look at what makes the Devils more or less aggressive in the hope of maintaining breeding numbers.

Wendy Serrano, QUT News.