A Tasmanian devil released into the wild by actor Chris Hemsworth has been found with joeys, sparking hope the species can thrive on mainland Australia again.
The female carnivorous marsupial was among a group of 11 devils rewilded on the mainland, where the species was wiped out more than 3000 years ago when it became confined to Tasmania.
The Thor actor and his wife Elsa Pataky released “Adventurous Lisa” into the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern NSW in October 2020.
Born and bred with wildlife conservation group Aussie Ark, the devils were the very first of their species to be rewilded in the sanctuary.
Almost three years later, conservationists said they were in the middle of routine health checks on the animals when they discovered Lisa and her joeys.
Aussie Ark managing director Tim Faulkner said the find was hugely significant.
“It’s the very first confirmed devil joeys of 2023 and proof yet again that our breeding and rewilding program is a huge success,” he said.
The Tasmanian devil is an iconic Australian predator that has the potential to help control cats and foxes and allow native species to flourish.
Mr Faulkner said the marsupial was once a keystone species on mainland Australia.
“The devil is in the detail and Australia was missing an important detail with the absence of the Tasmanian devil,” he said.
“With every joey we turn back time.”
The 400-hectare sanctuary Lisa now calls home is “heavenly” for the carnivorous marsupials, the conservation group said.
It is fenced and free of invasive predators, allowing the devils to thrive once more as native apex predators.