After 26 years, Perth Zoo's Dibbler breeding program has been successfully completed.

  • Release of final 18 Dibblers onto Dirk Hartog Island brings Perth Zoo's breeding program to a successful conclusion
  • Perth Zoo has been breeding endangered Dibblers for wild release since 1997
  • More than 1,100 zoo-born Dibblers have been released over the past 26 years

After 26 years, Perth Zoo's Dibbler breeding program has been successfully completed.

The program's conclusion comes after the final zoo-bred Dibblers were released onto Dirk Hartog Island, an area where the animals had previously gone extinct.

Perth Zoo has bred 1,173 Dibblers for release into suitable wild habitat since 1997.

Of those, 203 have been released onto Dirk Hartog Island.

The breeding program has been instrumental in rescuing the endangered marsupial from extinction with the focus now shifting to protecting natural and translocated Dibbler populations.

As well as Dirk Hartog Island, Dibblers have also previously been released at Peniup Nature Reserve, near their natural populations in Fitzgerald River National Park, and onto Escape and Gunton Islands, where they have established new populations.

The Dirk Hartog Island Dibblers are part of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' Return to 1616 project.

The initiative aims to restore the island's ecosystem to a similar condition to that experienced by Dutch sailor Dirk Hartog when he first visited the region more than four centuries ago.

Comments attributed to Environment Minister Reece Whitby:

"This final release of zoo-born Dibblers is an exciting milestone for the recovery of the species.

"For 26 years, Perth Zoo has worked tirelessly to help reverse the decline of this endangered marsupial.

"The Zoo should be proud of its achievements.

"Its efforts in collaboration with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions are a shining example of what can be achieved in conserving our unique Western Australian wildlife."

Fact file:

  • The Dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis) is a small carnivorous marsupial that feeds mostly on ground-dwelling insects and other invertebrates.
  • They are active at dawn and dusk, living in areas with lots of leaf litter which provides them with shelter and food.
  • The Dibbler was once found in near-coastal areas across the south-west corner of Australia, from Shark Bay south-east to Esperance.
  • It was thought extinct until a chance rediscovery in 1967.
  • Habitat loss and introduced predators reduced the Dibbler's range to small parts of Fitzgerald River National Park and islands in Jurien Bay.
  • Dirk Hartog Island is situated in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area and on the country of the Malgana people, who know it as Wirruwana.
  • The Dibbler is one of at least 11 native species lost from Dirk Hartog Island following European settlement and the introduction of sheep, goats, and feral cats.
  • In 2018 Dirk Hartog Island became the world's largest island to have feral cats, sheep, and goats fully eradicated.
  • In 2019, the first Perth Zoo-born Dibblers were released to Dirk Hartog Island.