Although most people think of the Looney Tunes cartoon character, this unique and iconic species is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. Two and a half years ago, the Los Angeles Zoo, one of only six zoos in the United States to house them, welcomed this species to a brand new home. Months of preparation and education took place before their arrival, which included a spacious exhibit built to the exact specifications of the Australian government.

Tragically, a catastrophic disease known as devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) has been killing adult devils in recent years. This rare, contagious cancer is rapidly transmitted from one animal to another through biting (common behavior when mating or feeding), and is always fatal. Found only in this species, DFTD has wiped out 85% of the wild devil population since 1996, and currently there is no cure. 

Experts are working together to form disease-free populations bred in zoos and breeding facilities, including the Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary where Moloch and Mutiny were born. Critical to the survival of this species, these populations will be reintroduced to the island in protected areas where the disease has not yet been found. One fascinating fact that has come to light is that while female devils are nursing their young – which they do for approximately 12 months – they are immune to this cancer. When they stop nursing, they succumb. This has given rise to the suggestion that Tasmanian Devil milk be studied for its properties and possible aid in the search for a cure for cancer in humans. 

At the L.A. Zoo, we work together with our international partners to make a difference to our rapidly diminishing wildlife and together with your support we will impact the future of this species and more.

Every dollar makes a difference to wildlife and wild places. Thank you!!