by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
Roughly 3,000 years ago, Tasmanian devils disappeared from the wilds of mainland Australia—instead only surviving on Tasmania Island, the landmass from which they got their common name. But now for the first time in millennia, a mama devil living outside of captivity has given birth to a litter of joeys, in this case, seven thumbnail-sized, hairless infants, reports Gemma Conroy for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). They were born in Barrington Tops, a nature preserve north of Sydney.
The mother is part of a group of 26 Tasmanian devils re-introduced to the preserve in late 2020 by conservation group Aussie Ark, and the hope is that they will one day blossom into a self-sustaining population of the feisty marsupials.
“We have been working tirelessly for the better part of ten years to return devils to the wild of mainland Australia with the hope that they would establish a sustainable population,” says Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, in a statement. “Once they were back in the wild, it was up to them, which was nerve-wracking. We had been watching them from afar until it was time to step in and confirm the birth of our first wild joeys.”