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Tasmanian Devil Faces Extinction (PHOTOS)

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Soon, the Tasmanian devil may only exist on episodes of "Looney Tunes." The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is endangered in the wild, due to a highly lethal contagious cancer.

The cancer, devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) has killed off up to 90% of the Tasmanian devil population since it was first observed in 1996, according to Scientific American. The cancer fills the animal's mouth with tumors, causing it to starve to death. The cancer is transmitted easily between Tasmanian devils because they bite each other while mating and fighting.

Sanctuaries are currently being built to isolate disease-free devils, in the hopes of breeding them and then releasing the animal back to the wild in the future.

One of the newest sanctuaries is Devil Ark, a 500-hectare conservation site in Australia. The project is currently trying to raise more money to keep the sanctuary operational. The first stage of the project was funded by the Australian government's "Save the Tasmanian Devil" program. The goal is to house over 1,000 Tasmanian devils. Reptile Park manager Mary Rayner tells ABC Sydney, "A lot is actually resting on the success of Devil Ark."

Hopefully the sanctuaries will find success in boosting the decimated devil population. Check out some photos of this incredible endangered species below.

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