The actor and his wife helped release 11 Tasmanian devils as part of a larger effort with the Global Wildlife Conservation.

By Cailey Rizzo
October 05, 2020

For the first time in about 3,000 years, wild Tasmanian Devils are roaming mainland Australia.

Coordinated by Aussie Ark, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Wild Ark, the rewilding effort also had some star power thanks to Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky who released 11 Tasmanian Devils into the forest in New South Wales last month, where they once roamed.

“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,”  Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, said in a statement. “Because of this reintroduction and all of the hard work leading up to it, someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago.”

Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky
Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky
| Credit: Courtesy of Global Wildlife Conservation

The team has now released a total of 26 Tasmanian Devils into a fenced sanctuary in the forests of Barrington Tops, an area free of invasive predators, which will allow the devil population to grow. Conservationists hope the reintroduction of the species will encourage the forest to regenerate after devastating fires earlier this year

Tasmanian Devils are believed to have vanished from mainland Australia after being outcompeted by dingoes. Although dingoes never made it to Tasmania, a deadly disease called Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) wiped out about 90 percent of the population there. Only about 25,000 devils are estimated left and it is now classified as an endangered species. 

This is the first of three planned Tasmanian Devil reintroductions. In the next two years, Aussie Ark will release 20 new devils at a time. The animals will be monitored through surveys, radio collars, and camera traps to learn where they’re claiming territory, what challenges they face, and their impact on the environment. Data from these studies will be used to refine the release process for future rewilding efforts. 

Aussie Ark has been developing a Tasmanian Devil breeding conservation program for more than 10 years, with the intent of one day returning the animals to the wild. The Tasmanian Devil is one of seven cornerstone species that Aussie Ark hopes to reintroduce to Barrington Tops over the coming years (including Eastern quoll, Brush-tail rock wallabies, Rufous bettong, long-nosed potoroo, parma wallabies and southern brown bandicoots). Rewilding the animals that were originally there could help restore the sanctuary’s natural balance, including encouraging the forests to regenerate. 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at