Press Centre

Aussie Animal Island

  • Episode: 

    1 of 6

  • Transmission: 

    Tue 03 Sep 2013
  • Time: 

    7.30pm - 8.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 36 2013 : Sat 31 Aug - Fri 06 Sep
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing - in the public domain - until Tuesday 27 August  2013.
 
Series overview:
 
“The Tasmanian Devil is a loveable marsupial… with serious attitude. A devastating disease threatens their species. Hope rests on a few devils born in captivity. Their mission: leave their safe surroundings, train for an elite squad, head for an isolated island, and life in the wild.”
 
Aussie Animal Island, narrated by Jason Donovan, sees a group of Tasmanian Devils hauled from the luxury of Australian zoos and sanctuaries then released into the wilds of a remote island. If they can fend for themselves they might just save their entire species from extinction. But how will the island’s teeming wildlife cope with the arrival of their new neighbours?
 
The Tasmanian Devil is a marsupial carnivore whose name derives from the ferocious growls and cries that terrified the early European settlers at night. Devils only live wild in the island state of Tasmania but the species is threatened with extinction.
 
Since 1996 the Tasmanian Devil has fallen prey to a highly contagious facial cancer that has already wiped out eighty per cent of the wild population. Following the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger, in 1936, the very real prospect of losing the species due to the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) has mobilised the world’s scientific community.
 
Now, a team of scientists has hatched an audacious plan to save these devilishly delightful little critters from extinction. They will create an ‘insurance’ population of disease-free Devils on an island off the coast of Tasmania. It’s a risky experiment – because ‘disease-free’ means ‘captive’ and the hand-reared animals have never hunted for themselves, found shelter or faced a predator.
 
The current residents of the island - wombats, penguins, kangaroos and geese – must also adapt to the presence of these aggressive new arrivals or else they and their young may die.
 
Using the latest technology, Aussie Animal Island will follow the selection process, transportation, release and the fortunes of fifteen devils as they unwittingly fight for the survival of their kind. 
 
The series follows the Devils as they rediscover their natural instincts to hunt, mate, and – with a little luck – rear their own in this make or break year for the many mammals, marsupials and birds on Aussie Animal Island.
 
Episode one:
 
Tasmanian Devils, the world’s largest marsupial carnivore, are falling prey to a mystery ‘plague’, a highly contagious facial cancer that has wiped out 80% of the population since 1996. Despite huge efforts, the tumour disease that has become world news is incurable. 
Devils only live wild in the island state of Tasmania and the species may be extinct there in just ten years due to a contagious cancer. Tasmanian people still pine for their last native animal to face extinction, the Tasmanian Tiger. With the disease spreading fast, Tasmanian people are keen to make sure the Devils avoid the same fate. 
 
At the Save The Tasmanian Devil Program HQ in Hobart, wildlife vet Sarah Peck, Phil Wise and their team have hatched a plan to create an ‘insurance population’ of disease-free Devils. They’ll live wild on a remote island location away from contagion - Maria Island off Tasmania’s east coast.
 
The mountainous splendour of Maria Island, once one of convict Australia’s most notorious prisons for hardened criminals, is a national park teeming with bird and animal life. It’s a peaceful, unchanging world – the last Tasmanian Devil to live here was over 20,000 years ago and the current residents like it that way. 
 
Meanwhile, a crack team of scientists and zoologists are putting Tasmanian Devils through a variety of tests to see if they have what it takes to fend for themselves in the wild. The chosen few will be transported to the island to start their new lives out of captivity. 
 
What impact will this savage new predator have on the existing wildlife? Will they find a new balance? The team will be there to monitor the fate of the island’s long-term inhabitants – and the newly arrived predators.