May 26 (UPI) -- Tasmanian devils were born in mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years, wildlife charity Aussie Ark announced.
The non-profit announced in an Instagram post Monday that seven Tasmanian devil joeys were born at Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary after the species died out in the country due to predators and disease.
"We have been working tirelessly for the better part of 10 years to return devils to the wild of mainland Australia with the hope that they would establish a sustainable population," the Aussie Ark said. "We had been watching them from afar until it was time to step in and confirm the birth of our first wild joeys. And what a moment it was!"
Aussie Ark is the largest Tasmanian devil conservation breeding program in mainland Australia. It began in 2011 with 44 Tasmanian devils and has produced seven successful breeding seasons with more than 300 healthy joeys born, according to its website.
Female Tasmanian devils give birth to between 20 to 40 joeys about the size of shelled peanuts at once and those that make it to their mother's pouch live there for about three months.
Last September, Aussie Ark introduced 11 Tasmanian devils back into the wild in mainland Australia where they were able to successfully reproduce.
"We've been able historically -- albeit in its infancy -- to return the devil to mainland and today is another milestone entirely," said Aussie Ark President Tim Faulkner.
There are 25,000 Tasmanian devils left in the wild after dingoes arrived in mainland Australia and forced Tasmanian devils to be restricted to the island of Tasmania.
A form of contagious cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease has also killed 90% of the Tasmanian devil population since it was discovered in 1996.
As the world's largest carnivorous marsupials, a resurgence of Tasmanian devils would help to control populations of feral cats and foxes that hunt other endangered species in Australia.
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