Video: Tasmanian Devils Battle Gruesome Cancer

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June 8, 2007—Australia's scrappy and ferocious Tasmanian devils may have finally met their match—an outbreak of cancer that has swept across Tasmania.

Since the 1990s the lymphatic cancer—which results in gruesome facial tumors—has wiped out at least 50,000 wild devils and decreased their population by one-third.

The cancer, which has no cure, usually kills the marsupial in less than six months.

Tasmanian devils are voracious scavengers with huge appetites: They can eat 40 percent of their weight in one sitting.

The carnivores once roamed the Australian continent, but dingoes and hunting reduced their numbers. Today, the threatened animals live only on the island state of Tasmania.

Watch as Menna Jones, a biologist at Trowunna Wildlife Park, works to create a cancer-free captive population of devils.

"Wild Chronicles," airing on PBS, made possible by National Geographic Mission Programs, Lindblad Expeditions, and presented by WLIW New York

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