Fourteen Numbats born at Perth Zoo were fitted with radio collars today ahead of being released into the wild.

The release of the animals is part of a recovery program spearheaded by the State Government to arrest the decline of the endangered animal.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said these unique marsupials used to be found throughout southern Australia, but only two natural populations remained in our State’s south-west.

“For the first time since the program started in 1987, Zoo-bred animals will be released into Dryandra Woodland which is home to one of the last original wild populations,” Mr Jacob said.

“In recent years, although foxes have been controlled effectively under Parks and Wildlife’s Western Shield program, the Dryandra numbat population has suffered predation by feral cats.

“With wild numbers potentially as low as 1000, the Zoo-bred animals will help maintain genetic diversity and provide a safety-net against extinction.

“For the team dedicated to the recovery project, the release of the numbats to Dryandra Woodland brings the project full circle. Dryandra was where the original founding numbats were sourced from in the 1980’s to begin the captive breeding program.”

With regular input from the wild to prevent inbreeding, Perth Zoo has now reared 195 individuals in partnership with the Department of Parks and Wildlife to release them into suitable habitats to establish new populations.

Ahead of their release, all 14 numbats were fitted with small radio collars funded by the community group Project Numbat.

This will enable Parks and Wildlife scientists to follow the numbats’ progress and monitor female numbats after the breeding season to determine if they’ve reproduced.

Fact File
  • The numbat is Western Australia’s animal emblem
  • Perth Zoo has the only breeding centre for numbats in the world
  • Funding for the radio collars was generously provided by Project Numbat