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May 13, 2013

New Enclosures - Making Sense of Scents

Smell is an important form of communication
Smell is an important form of communication

Our Taking Care of the Elders enclosure project is underway.  Planning is currently being held to ensure that the enclosures are the best construction and design to cater to the needs of the ageing Tasmanian Devils, so that they can enjoy their ‘retirement’ from the breeding program and live out their days in comfort, contentment and safety.

DID YOU KNOW - The Tasmanian Devil has a very keen sense of smell.  The olfactory bulb – the part of brain that is used to detect and interpret smells is enormous in the Tassie Devil’s brain and gives a good indication of the importance of smell for survival.  In the wild, these animals use their sense of smell to communicate, find food, find mates and establish territory.   In fact, the Tassie Devil’s nose is so sensitive they can detect scents up to 1km (0.6 mi) away!

When in captivity, an important part of Tasmanian Devil husbandry is providing these animals with good mental stimulation, enabling them to hone their keen sense of smell and prevent boredom.  Thinking up novel ways of keeping Devils entertained keeps the wildlife keepers busy!  To challenge and support their keen sense of smell, ‘bloodcicles’ are sometimes put in the enclosure (blocks of frozen blood), enabling this carnivorous marsupial keep busy by sniffing it out, similar to finding carrion in the wild – gory but great for Devils!  Food and other native animal faeces are scattered through the enclosure to make the enclosure a dynamic enclosure full of scents that they would encounter in the wild.

Our new enclosures will have ‘smelling platforms’, where the Devils can climb up (another favourite activity) and sniff around.   This is all just part of the important process of ensuring that Tasmanian Devils in captivity are mentally, emotionally and physically healthy! 

With plans being finalised on creating these fantastic, dynamic enclosures, our attention now turns to procuring the building materials so that we can start the building process!  We need to raise funds to buy these materials and hope that you can help us.

You can choose what you would like to support through set amounts for fencing materials, plants and tools – or pledge your own amount and know that you are contributing to the survival of this wonderful, iconic species.

A huge thank you to those that have supported our Tasmanian Devil project so far – your contribution will ensure that these important conservation efforts continue and that the Tasmanian Devil will have a Wild Future!

Hope for the future for this young devil
Hope for the future for this young devil
Devils like to get up high for a look and a sniff
Devils like to get up high for a look and a sniff

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Feb 19, 2013

Fantastic new project - Taking Care of the Elders

Devils love watching from a high vantage point
Devils love watching from a high vantage point

Happy 2013 and thank you to everyone that helped our Tasmanian Devil program in 2012.  Your generous donations have enabled us to assist in expanding vital breeding programs as we fight to ensure this amazing species does not disappear down the road to extinction.

With new breeding enclosures now well established and the Devils settling in nicely, Conservation Volunteers Australia will be taking on a new project for Tasmanian Devils.  What happens to older Tassie Devils when they have finished their part in the breeding program?  They go into retirement of course!  Conservation Volunteers Australia will be working with Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary to establish a new enclosure for the devils who are ready to retire and relax - a 'Retirement Village'.  We call it the ‘Taking Care of the Elders’ project.  The ageing Devils have made an important and long-lasting contribution to the ongoing survival of the species and now they can live out the rest of their days in relaxed comfort, enjoying social interaction, good food and shelter.

As part of our ‘Taking Care of the Elders’ program, we need your help to obtain materials for the project.  Fencing, infrastructure for dens and shelter and native plants to provide habitat and shade are all necessary to ensure that our older Tassie Devils heading into retirement are happy, comfortable and healthy.  A fitting reward for the hard work they have provided and an important part of looking after the species throughout its entire life in captivity.

You can choose what you would like to support through set amounts for fencing materials, plants, tools – or pledge your own amount and know that you are contributing to the survival of this incredible species.

A big thank you to those that have supported the project so far and we hope that you can continue to join us in the fight against extinction for Tasmanian Devils with our Taking Care of the Elders project.

Enjoying a dip on a hot day
Enjoying a dip on a hot day
Retired Devils will be able to seek out new scents
Retired Devils will be able to seek out new scents

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Nov 26, 2012

Fancy new digs for Tassie Devils!

Results of a successful captive breeding program!
Results of a successful captive breeding program!

Things have been busy for the Conservation Volunteers Tassie Devil team!  In Tasmania, our work at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and teams of enthusiastic volunteers have finished the new enclosures as part of the 'Nurturing the Tasmanian Devil' project, providing Tasmanian Devils involved in the breeding program more space and shelter.  

A sense of smell is really important for Tasmanian Devils.  Scent provides a main way for individuals to communicate with each other and is one of their most important senses for their survival.  To maintain good enrichment for the Tassie Devils at Bonorong, the volunteer teams have built a number of crucial structures in the enclosures, including digging mounds and sniffing platforms so that the Devils can utilise their natural behavioral characteristics and communicate with each other.  Check out the photos to see what the new Devil Digs look like! What a wonderful place for Devils to retire after the breeding program!

The prognosis for wild Devils is sadly not so rosy, with scientists estimating a possible wild population extinction within the next decade.  Creating and managing these captive breeding and insurance populations of Tasmanian Devils is paramount to enable to species to survive should the wild population completely succumb to the deadly Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) and disappear from the forests of Tasmania altogether.  

Your generous support has made these enclosures possible - a crucial part of the expanding captive breeding programs to ensure that this species survives well into the future.  More collaborative talks are underway with other wildlife parks on mainland Australia as part of the Tasmanian Devil Program for Conservation Volunteers, giving this species an even greater chance of survival and a Wild Future!  Every action counts and every moment counts - so we greatly appreciate your support to save the Tasmanian Devil and look forward to your continued involvement in this fantastic program!

Smell is an important means of communication
Smell is an important means of communication
Lovely new digs for Devils at Bonorong!
Lovely new digs for Devils at Bonorong!

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