Tasmanian Devil Unzoo – Taranna, Australia - Atlas Obscura

The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is the first of its kind in the world: a zoo with no boundary walls or enclosures, allowing its animals to roam freely and come and go as they please.

Owned and operated by the Hamilton family since 1979, the attraction was originally called the Tasmanian Devil Park and ran as a conventional zoo, featuring several orphaned Tasmanian devil pups as the main attraction.

By the early 2000s, the devil facial tumor disease—an incurable transmissible cancer found in devil saliva, that passes through bite wounds—had decimated devil populations so severely that the species’ status was changed from stable to endangered. The park, which had been running a successful captive devil breeding program since 1980, immediately joined conservation efforts, working closely with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and operating an off-display quarantine area for possibly infected devils. 

As the park grew more involved in conservation work, the Hamiltons decided that it was time to rethink their attraction. They worked with zoo designers Jon Coe and Ray Mendez to move away from the traditional zoo layout. In 2007, the park was renamed the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo and a three-year restructuring commenced. Rather than a series of enclosures with animals on display, the new design aimed to immerse visitors in the environment. Cages and fences were removed, nesting boxes were installed, and the grounds were returned to bushland, allowing wildlife to roam freely and for no two guest experiences to be the same. 

The only animals at the Unzoo that remain enclosed are the Tasmanian devils, but for good reason: not only do devils have the most powerful bite relative to body size of any living mammalian carnivore, but the devils on the Tasman Peninsula are free of the devil facial tumor disease that has ravaged the Tasmanian mainland. While scientists continue to study the disease and look for a cure, the Unzoo works to spread awareness of the plight of the Tasmanian devil and ensure the species’ survival. 

Know Before You Go

The Unzoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The first Tasmanian devil feeding is at 10 a.m.

Admission is $39 AUD/adult, $22.50 AUD/child.

In partnership with KAYAK

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