In June 1906 the¬† liner Omrah sailed from Australia to Great Britain. Arriving¬† in Plymouth it unloaded what was then called a Tasmanian wolf (A Thylacine) and a Tasmanian devil. It’s a miracle the devil¬† disembarked, as it had escaped its enclosure¬† soon after the ship left Australia. It was missing for three weeks, despite a thorough, ongoing¬† search by both passengers and crew.¬† Eventually found hiding under some gear on the upper deck, it was clear the little fellow¬† had found plenty of food. He was much fatter than when he escaped. (Reported in the Daily Telegraph, 28 July 1906)

WAR SERVICE FOR ‘PRIVATE’¬† T.¬† DEVIL

My great uncle’ s 12th Battalion left Tasmania for Egypt in October 1914 with a devil as their mascot, along with a kangaroo and a wombat. Oh dear, we were so cavalier in our attitude towards native animals in those days. Still, it’s hard to be critical of those brave servicemen. And yes, the devil escaped¬† on the troopship Geelong, scaring the wits out of everyone except its carer, a cook called ‘Bluey’ Thompson.¬† To everyone’s relief the mascot was soon back in its cage. When the men went off to fight at Gallipoli Bluey donated the devil to the Cairo Zoo.

The 12th Battalion's Tasmanian Devil mascot with carer 'Bluey' Thompson.

‘Bluey’ Thompson with the 12th Battalion’s devil mascot.

THE TERRIFYING DEVIL OF PENSHURST

Keeping a Tassie devil as a pet in a residential area is just asking for trouble. I must say the description of escapee in the following report is a bit harsh though. By the way, Penshurst is a southern suburb of Sydney.

Greedy, staring eyes, clutching paws, snarling teeth. The sight of these under the grocer’s shop of Mr. E.O. Wheeler, Forest Road, Penshurst, sent a shiver through the household yesterday. Nobody dared to crawl near enough to get a good look at the creature. Later the brute crawled out itself, and proved¬† to be a very hungry young Tasmanian devil, which had escaped from the home of Mr Turner, of Penshurst, three weeks ago. Mr Turner says¬† the devil is not as black as it is painted. (Sydney Sun, Dec. 6 1925)

A devil can certainly wreak havoc. Another one that escaped captivity in suburbia was reported to have killed more than 50 chickens, six geese, a cat, and a pet seabird in just two nights.

Even Melbourne’s Royal Park Zoo once ‘lost’ a trio of devils.¬† The message went out to police cars to commence a widespread hunt, but as it turned out they hadn’t gone far at all. Soon after the alarm was raised a keeper found all three sleeping in a dingo’s adjoining burrow.¬† Burrowing under the wire dividing fence must have worn them out.¬† ¬†(Information from The Sun, May 13 1946).

On October 16 2012, Western Australia’s Peel Zoo also had three young devils escape, although it¬† wasn’t really the devils’ fault. A gum tree fell, crashing into their enclosure. The four month old males¬† Genghis, Itchy and Scratchy took the opportunity to run away.¬† ¬†Well…who could blame them?

Scratchy was spotted first, and  chased through the bush by a couple of gung-ho  blokes; Robbie Haddow and Jonney Freeley.  Speaking  to the ABC afterwards, Freeley admitted  to having been under the influence of a few beers;

He was pretty tame, you know. They have been hand-reared and that, so it wasn’t so bad ’til we got home and he chewed a hole in me mate’s bloody bathroom.’¬†

 

Hole left in a bathroom wall by a Tasmanian Devil

The damage from a little devil.

Below is the owner of the zoo, David Cobbold, with  Scratchy safely back in his arms,

Scratchy the Devil recaptured.

SOURCE – ABC NEWS.

Itchy was next to be found. The final and largest escapee, Genghis, was cornered in a lady’s driveway a few days later and carted back home, looking tired and a bit thin.

Perhaps the greatest escape for the wonderful Tasmanian devils is from the ghastly facial tumours that threatened their very existence.

FOR AN ABC VIDEO OF  SCRATCHY. THE PEEL ZOO ESCAPEE,  CLICK HERE.

AND CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY OF BLUEY THE COOK  AND HIS DEVIL

 

 

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