Tasmanian devils were born in mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years, according to the conservation organisation Aussie Ark.
In an Instagram post on Monday, the non-profit revealed that seven Tasmanian devil joeys were born at Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary after the species became extinct in the nation owing to predation and illness.
“We have been working tirelessly for the better part of 10 years to return devils to the wild of mainland Australia with the hope that they would establish a sustainable population,” the Aussie Ark said. “We had been watching them from afar until it was time to step in and confirm the birth of our first wild joeys. And what a moment it was!”
Aussie Ark is the largest Tasmanian devil conservation breeding program in mainland Australia. It began in 2011 with 44 Tasmanian devils and has produced seven successful breeding seasons with more than 300 healthy joeys born, according to its website.
Female Tasmanian devils give birth to between 20 to 40 joeys about the size of shelled peanuts at once and those that make it to their mother’s pouch live there for about three months.
Last September, Aussie Ark introduced 11 Tasmanian devils back into the wild in mainland Australia where they were able to successfully reproduce.
“We’ve been able historically — albeit in its infancy — to return the devil to mainland and today is another milestone entirely,” said Aussie Ark President Tim Faulkner.
Dingoes came in mainland Australia and drove Tasmanian devils to be limited to the island of Tasmania, leaving 25,000 in the wild.
Since its discovery in 1996, a type of infectious disease known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease has also destroyed 90 percent of the Tasmanian devil population.
A recovery of Tasmanian devils, the world’s biggest carnivorous marsupials, would aid in the management of feral cats and foxes, which hunt other endangered species in Australia.