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Zoo Born Numbats Ready for Wild Release

Nine endangered Numbats born at Perth Zoo were fitted with radio collars today to prepare for their release into the wild.

The eight juvenile and one adult Numbat were bred at Perth Zoo as part of DBCA’s Biodiversity and Conservation Science program.  

On 9 December 2019 the Numbats will be released into Dryandra Woodland, a nature reserve two hours from Perth. The site includes a 1000-hectare predator proof fenced area containing an insurance population of Numbats and other endangered species.

In the wild, Numbats are threatened by habitat loss and feral predators including foxes and cats. Their natural diet requires up to 20,000 termites a day.

Perth Zoo Senior Keeper, Vicki Power, said: “It takes a lot of hard work to breed and care for these bushy-tailed marsupials, so it’s very rewarding to release zoo-born individuals into protected forests to boost wild populations.

“There are estimated to be fewer than 1000 Numbats left in the wild, but we are committed to helping save the numbat from extinction. Since 1993 we have bred and released 258 numbats, not including this year’s joeys.”

Forty-four of those released have been to Dryandra Woodlands, where the current population is estimated to have increased from 50 to 400 individuals in the past five years.

“It’s exciting to see the numbers rising, and we are working hard to secure the survival of Western Australia’s state mammal emblem,” Vicki said.

Today the nine Numbats at the Zoo were fitted with radio collars by DBCA Principal Research Scientist Dr Tony Friend.

“Community group, Project Numbat, provided the funding for the radio collars that allow us to keep track of the progress of the released Numbats,” Dr Friend said.

“Field staff have been able track breeding activity and many of the Numbats released in previous years have gone on to have offspring, so we hope this year’s recruits have the same success.”

Perth Zoo is the only zoo in the world where Numbats are bred. They are one of five native species bred or reared at the Zoo as part of collaborative efforts within the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to help save wildlife.

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