Balga Devil
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Live Tasmanian devil captured at Balga, WA, 1997

Zoo keeper John Arlidge with the tasmanian devil found under a car. Photo: Dione Davidson

A little known fact is that in 1997 a live Tasmanian devil was captured at Balga in Western Australia. Wildlife carer Penny Anderson was called to capture a possum, but found instead a Tasmanian devil, according to a report in the West Australian (Perth) newspaper on 25 July 1997 (p 11).

The full report is reproduced below.

Perth Zoo has confirmed the devil, which they named "Balga" after the suburb in which she was found, was transferred to them by Department of Conservation and Land Management officials and stayed at the zoo until her death in 2000 when she was euthanased due to an inoperable anal gland tumour (Read, 22/7/11, personal communication).

Article by Kristi High

AFTER spending 30 minutes chasing the possum she was sent to catch, Penny Anderson thought it was a little devil - and it was.

A tasmanian devil.

Mrs Anderson, a wildlife carer with the Fauna Rehabilitation Foundation, was sent to Balga on Tuesday to catch a possum.

"By the description I was given, I was certain it was going to be a possum," she said.

"But when I saw it I knew straight away what it was, it was a tasmanian devil."

The three-year-old animal was spotted under a parked car.

Usually found only in Tasmania, it is a mystery as to how the creature found its way to Balga.

None of WA's 16 registered licensees of tasmanian devils have lost any animals.

The Department of Conservation and Land Management suspects the 5.8kg devil may have been imported illegally and kept as a pet before escaping.

CALM spokesman Darren Graham said it was lucky no one was hurt because tasmanian devils were vicious. Their teeth were sharp enough to sever a hand.

The animal is now being cared for at Perth Zoo.

The zoo's director of conservation, Colin Hyde, said a new enclosure would be built for the devil and she could be on show in a few months.

"This is good timing because we have been looking for a devil for some months," he said.

Thank you to the keen reader who spotted a reference in a Cryptozoology book. This led us to track down the original news report, photograph and to confirm the final outcome with Perth Zoo.

Balga is also mentioned (though not by name) in an article on the thylacine in the same paper on 5 January 1998. Colin Hyde, director of conservation at the zoo, noted the devil was still at the zoo at that time(p 7).

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