By Dr. Ann Hohenhaus l vetstreet.com
ThinkstockFor those of us who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, Warner Bros.' character Taz, the omnivorous, whirling, swirling cartoon caricature of a Tasmanian devil, was a delight. Already long on the endangered species list, however, the real Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) now risks extinction because of a strange form of contagious cancer.
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A carnivorous marsupial about the size of a small dog, the devil is found only on the island of Tasmania, located off the southeast coast of Australia. The disease, which was first documented in the 1990s, has been killing the animals at an alarming rate. It attacks young devils at 2 to 3 years of age - long before they have an opportunity to reproduce. In areas where the disease has been found, up to 90 percent of the population has been decimated. The devils' rapid decline has led to aggressive - but so far only marginally effective - efforts toRead More »from Tasmanian Devils Threatened by Strange Cancer