Imogen visits the Save the Devil Research Facility

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Getting out of the classroom and into dream workplaces is something year 5 / 6 students from across Burnie are experiencing as part of the dream BIG initiative.  Imogen Howat was one of the participants who took the time to explore her career aspirations.  She listed the career path of Zoologist as her top choice for a work placement and found herself further afield than several of her peers, visiting the Save the Devil Research Facility in Cressy. 

“I’m still interested in a career working with animals… it was different than what I expected, in a better way.” Imogen said.

The early exposure to careers is a valuable component of the dream BIG initiative for students who may not otherwise know what is involved in working in a particular occupation, or what the world of work looks like.  Dream BIG also runs visits to higher education facilities and invites schools to participate in Up Close and BIG sessions with guest speakers with inspirational career journeys.

Imogen met naughty Norbet, Snickers, Crumpet and Panini.  She also learnt about their important role in breeding the insurance population for our planet.  Peggy was a resident Devil mother and unfortunately stayed hidden with her offspring in a cosy den throughout the visit.  Her presence was evidence of the success of the breeding program which aims to build a resilient population of Tasmanian Devils immune to the facial tumour. 

“The Devils are named by the Save the Devil team.  They have a different theme for naming the devils each year”, said Biologist, David Schaap.  This year the Save the Devil Program are working with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to give the new devils their names in palawa kani.  The word for Tasmanian Devil in palawa kani is purinina

Did you know?

  1. Devils are cheeky and playful, ‘Sometimes workers can be surrounded in the pen by them’, said David.
  2. The Devils Ambassadors Program, which see’s Tasmanian Devils transported across the world to different zoos and wildlife parks in on hold with the COVID pandemic.  The last Devil to leave Tasmania went to a zoo in Prague in 2019.
  3. The Devils need to be continually interbred with other communities.  For example, the breeding program takes a Devil from the West Coast and pairs him with a Devil from Freycinet.  Each community has different genetics that when combined can support immunity to the facial tumour that is wreaking havoc on the Tasmanian Devil Population.
  4. The West Coast community of Devils is more resilient to disease than other Devil communities studied in Tasmania.
  5. The origin of the facial tumour disease can be traced back to an individual creature.  A female devil who was located at Mt William in the state’s North East. 
  6. At the Cressy research facility, the Devils are fed wallaby and possum that are supplied by a hunter from the east coast.
  7. When Devils are transported overseas, they are transitioned to a diet of venison (deer meat), as it is the most available meat overseas that is similar to wallaby and possum.
  8. The Devils are trapped in a pipe- like contraption and then tipped into hessian sacks to enable scientific handling safely.
  9. Mother Devils abandon their young at around 8- 12 months once they have finished suckling in the pouch and are old enough to fend for themselves.
  10.  We also learnt that the Cressy Bakery has an amazing array of donuts- they are huge!

For more information about the dream BIG initiative and to follow Burnie Works progress in the community.  Sign up for a newsletter via www.burnieworks.com.au