Chris Hemsworth Helps Return Tasmanian Devils to Australian Mainland After 3,000-Year Absence

Actors Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky last month helped release 11 Tasmanian devils on Australia’s mainland, where the animals have been extinct for around 3,000 years.

Working with wildlife conservation group Aussie Ark, Hemsworth and Pataky released the devils at a 1,000-acre wildlife sanctuary at Barrington Tops National Park in New South Wales.

Aussie Ark has for the last decade been building a population of Tasmanian devils “and learning everything they can about the animals, including about their reproductive physiology, behavior, and ecological needs” ahead of the reintroduction in September.

According to Aussie Ark, Tasmanian devils became extinct on mainland Australia as they were outcompeted by dingoes. The dingoes never made it to the island state of Tasmania, where the devils continued to thrive. However, the devil facial tumor disease, a cancer first described in the 1990s, has devastated the population on the island, reducing it by around 90 percent, to around 25,000 animals.

“In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner said.

“Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators,” he said. Credit: Aussie Ark via Storyful