Cedric the Tasmanian devil has developed cancer, leaving researchers scrambling to find new strategies to save the endangered species.
Tasmanian devils are being decimated by a fatal and infectious cancer that spreads when one animal bites another. Wild population sizes have plummeted by 60% in the past 10 years, and experts predict that these feisty marsupials may be extinct within 20 years if no solution is found.
Researchers suspected earlier this year that one lucky devil, Cedric, was immune to the cancer, spurring hope that the “devil’s could be their own saviours”. A breeding programme, which would have seen Cedric’s cancer-resistant progeny repopulating the wild, was initiated.
Cedric has now developed two cancerous tumours on his face, however.
“It was very deflating, very, very disappointing,” cancer researcher Greg Woods from the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, told ABC news.
The tumours have been surgically removed and Cedric is expected to make a full recovery. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the breeding programme, which has been put on hold.
Top image: a Tasmanian devil (not Cedric)/ Getty.