A very special day has rolled around for the Australian Reptile Park’s beloved Tasmanian devil duo, ‘Vegemite’ and Toast’ – they’re celebrating their first birthday today! Whilst your typical birthday cake wasn’t on the menu for this pair, a special ‘meat cake’ filled with kangaroo meat, fresh eggs, and sardines, was.
After devouring their birthday treat (and making quite the mess!), these cheeky little devils curled up with their surrogate mum, Keeper Lauren Hunter, to receive all the cuddles and scratches they could ever want. Since arriving at the Reptile Park from Aussie Ark’s breeding program in the Barrington Tops, Ms Hunter has well and truly had her hands full with hand-raising them, and twelve months on, their bond is strong as ever.
Earlier this month, the two joeys embarked on their next adventure. The pair were placed on display in the Tasmanian Devil exhibit at the Australian Reptile Park, where they’ve truly embraced their natural behaviours and instincts. Visitors making the most of the Easter school holidays can now see these cheeky devils and see their antics in action.
In twelve months’ time, both Tasmanian devil joeys will make their return to Aussie Ark and be released into a wild protected sanctuary – the largest of its kind for Tasmanian devils. There they will be able to join the breeding program and become ambassadors for saving this iconic Aussie animal. Aussie Ark’s population of Tasmanian devils are free from the devastating devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) that plagues wild populations.
Ms Hunter exclaimed, “It’s such an honour to have hand-raised the pair, and now celebrate their first birthday with them – I just can’t believe how much they’ve grown! Despite keeping me up at all hours of the night when they were first in my care, I would do it all over again. The bond I have with them can never be replaced.”
Ms Hunter states that “Even though I’ll be sad to see them make their return back to Aussie Ark eventually, to know that they will be contributing to the survival of their species through the conservation breeding program, makes it all worth it.”
Acting as a true sign of hope, the Tasmanian devil joeys being will act as an ambassador for the species and Australia’s native wildlife. Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on earth. With over 40 mammals alone extinct, Australia is an incredibly important region as so many of our species are found here, and nowhere else on the entire planet. 87% of our mammals, 93% of our Reptiles, 94% frogs and 45% birds are only found in Australia and we must protect them.