When you’re a Tasmanian devil at Auckland Zoo, turning six involves not only a special juicy birthday treat, but also a geriatric health check. Herod passed his check with flying colours, but not without escaping a follow up dental appointment.

In zoos Tasmanian devils can live to be around seven, whereas in the wild their fights for food and territory mean their life expectancy is no more than five years of age. Once widespread throughout Australia, devils are now only found in Tasmania due to danger and competition from larger predators, and their biggest threat – the deadly Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) that emerged in 1996. Sadly, there is no cure, but scientists and researchers are working hard to help secure a future for Tasmanian devils. Herod is part of an insurance population for his endangered species.

Herod is a special old devil, known as the resident elderly gentleman of our Strangely Beautiful Australia area. He never forgets to say good morning to his keepers and always enjoys a good ‘arf’ (chat). He has a bit of a clumsy nature, and thoroughly enjoys a sunbathe and a salmon ice lolly on a hot day.

“Tasmanian Devils are shy, sweet, and misunderstood animals. Despite Herod’s solitary nature, he loves to chat to me in the morning, and give my boots a curious sniff,” carnivore keeper Nick Parashchak explains.

Dr Russell Tucker of Kohimarama Vet Clinic is a regular dental specialist for our Auckland Zoo patients, and was called in to perform a root canal on Herod after we discovered his chipped tooth during his health check-up. After his procedure Herod was very excited to get back to his enclosure, running around sniffing and scent-marking his territory under the extra-watchful eyes of his very fond keepers.

Our carnivore team is very excited to be expecting more Tasmanian Devils soon. When our new young devils arrive they will be homed in a separate enclosure to Herod, so he can continue to enjoy the bachelor life without any disturbance from the younger, and likely rowdier, crowd. 

To learn more about the great work being done to help Tasmanian devils in the wild, you can visit our friends Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

You can also help by visiting Herod at Strangely Beautiful Australia, as a portion of your Zoo ticket goes to our Conservation Fund.