Initiated in 2013, and developed in close consultation with the Australasian Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), the Tasmanian Devil Ambassador Program (TDAP) was designed with the aim of placing suitable Tasmanian devils into world-class zoos as ‘ambassadors’.
After a successful pilot project with San Diego Zoo, the TDAP was expanded in 2015 with membership now including zoos in the USA (San Diego Zoo, Albuquerque BioPark, Los Angeles Zoo, St Louis Zoo, Toledo Zoo and Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo) and New Zealand (Wellington Zoo, Auckland Zoo and Orana Wildlife Trust).
More recently the ambassador program has expanded into zoos in Japan (Tama Zoo) and Europe (Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark, Duisburg in Germany and Pairi Daizi Zoo and Plankendael in Belgium).
Locations of Tasmanian devil Ambassadors
Each Tasmanian devil housed at participating ambassador zoos is from surplus ‘stock’ from within the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’s (STDP) Insurance Population. These ambassador devils are provided for display purposes, rather than breeding, and play an important conservation role in raising awareness of the plight of the species on the world stage.
Ambassador Tasmanian devil at San Diego Zoo
copyright: San Diego Zoo
Ambassador devil Derwent checking out the snow at Tama Zoo
copyright: Dr Tatsuko Hara
Only prominent zoos with a proven commitment to conservation are selected to participate in the TDAP and their involvement requires them to contribute directly to the STDP’s conservation efforts in Tasmania for this endangered species.
Some examples of how TDAP zoos have contributed funds to in situ conservation projects conducted by the STDP include:
- funding for the
annual monitoring project,
- genetic studies at University of Sydney,
- supply of satellite tracking collars for post release monitoring,
- development of a Roadkill App, and
- flights to assist specific STDP work such as retrieving satellite tracking collars from the wukalina/Mount William Wild Devil Recovery release and a trip to the remote south west of Tasmania to search for new Tasmanian devil genetic diversity for the
With Tasmanian devils now held in zoos across America, Europe and Japan, further applications are being assessed for future Ambassador Program partners.
STDP David Schaap with Ambassador devils ready to board the plane and head to their new home
STDP David Schaap with Tama Zoo staff after a husbandry training session in Japan
Hogg, C.J., Grueber, C.E., Pemberton, D., Fox, S., Lee, A.V., Ivy, J.A. et al. (2017a). “Devil Tools & Tech”
A Synergy of Conservation Research and Management Practice. Conservation Letters, 10, 133-138.