The Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park is located in Taranna on Tasman Peninsula just over an hour from Hobart. Visitors to the park have the opportunity to see Tasmanian Devils up close. The Park opened in 1978 and was the first Tasmanian Devil centre in the world. One of the highlights of a visit to the Park is seeing the Tasmanian Devils being fed. They are quite aggressive as they growl and snarl and tear up the food, crushing the bones with their powerful teeth and jaws. The devils are fed three or four times a day, with feeding at 10am, 11am, 1.30pm and 5pm (4.30pm in winter). “Devils in the Dark” is a guided tour that starts at dusk, and gives you the opportunity to see the Tasmanian devils and other nocturnal animals at their most active. (Times for the nocturnal tour vary, and the tour is only available for part of the year).
Tasmanian devils are carnivorous marsupials that feed mostly on carrion. In recent years Tasmanian devils have suffered from a facial cancer that appears to be passed from animal to animal by biting. Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a deadly cancer that affects Tasmanian Devils and was first described in 1996. The disease has spread through the wild Tasmania devil population, with a marked decline in devil population in affected areas. The disease is concentrated in the eastern two thirds of Tasmania, with the western third being free of the disease. Visible signs of Devil facial tumour disease begin with lumps and lesions around the mouth, developing into cancerous tumours that spread, killing the Devil about five months after the first symptoms of the disease. The Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park is in an isolated disease-free area, and is involved in research projects helping to find a cure for the problem.
There is more to Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park than Tasmanian Devils, though with various other animals and birds on display. There is a walk through enclosure where you can wander amongst kangaroos and wallabies. You will also get the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos at. Other native animals at the Park include quolls, and golden possums. The “Kings of the Wind” bird presentation features wedge-tailed eagles, hawks and falcons swooping and diving in an outdoor free-flight display. You will also see parrots showing their natural abilities such as colour recognition. The free flight show is on twice daily at 11.15am and 3.30pm.
Hot and cold drinks and snack are available at the Café, and the shop sells local products including a range of local wines. The Park features a Wildlife Gallery, which showcases wildlife works by artists, photographers and sculptors.
Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park is located on Port Arthur Highway at Taranna on the main road to Port Arthur from Hobart. To get there from Hobart, head out on the A3 over the Tasman Bridge, and continue to Sorell. At Sorell, take a right turn onto the Arthur Highway (A9) and continue through Dunalley and keep heading south to Taranna on Tasman Peninsula. There is a big sign at the Park on the roadside. The Park is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9 am to 5 pm (closing later in the summer).