Tasmanian devils, the carnivorous marsupials whose feisty, frenzied eating habits won the animals cartoon fame, have returned to mainland Australia for the first time in some 3,000 years.
"Seeing those devils released into a wild landscape - it's a really emotional moment," said Liz Gabriel, director of conservation group Aussie Ark, which led the release effort in partnership with other conservation groups.
The 11 most recently released devils began exploring their new home once they were freed from round, white cages at the nearly 1,000-acre Barrington Tops wildlife refuge in New South Wales state, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Sydney.
Tasmanian devils, which were once called Sarcophilus satanicus or "Satanic flesh-lover," went extinct in mainland Australia before the arrival of Europeans. Scientists believe the introduction of carnivorous dingoes, a surge in the indigenous human population, and a devastating dry season cause by a prolonged El Nino caused the devil to migrate to present-day Tasmania, said University of Tasmania ecologist Menna Jones.