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Perth Zoo's numbats wilderness bound

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016

More than a dozen numbats bred at Perth Zoo are being prepared for release into the wild, where only about 1000 of the endangered marsupials remain.

The 19 native animals were fitted with radio collars on Thursday, with five bound for the Dryandra Woodland near Narrogin, where WA's largest wild population lives, while the remainder are set to go to the Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in the Mid-West region.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said it would be the first time zoo-born numbats were released into the 7800-hectare Mt Gibson sanctuary, which is completely free of predators such as foxes and cats.

It's already home to an expanding population sourced from WA and bred at an Australian Wildlife Conservancy sanctuary in NSW, which will hopefully procreate with the zoo-born numbats.

Ms Jacob said the ultimate goal was to remove the species from the endangered animals list.

"They are our fauna emblem in Western Australia - there is no marsupial that is more important in WA than the numbat," he told reporters.

"The numbat used to exist right across southern Australia. Today, they are reduced to less than one per cent of their original range.

"This breeding program is a key part of ensuring they survive and, we hope, thrive into the future."

Parks and Wildlife principal research scientist Tony Friend said the animals would be released in about a week once it's clear the collars fit well.

The females will be caught and their pouches checked for offspring in January.

Of those released into the wild last year, 60 per cent had full litters of four young.

"They can breed for five years, so one female can produce 20 young in her lifetime, so that's way more than they need to replace themselves," Dr Friend said.

"There's great potential for growth of the population once you release them."

The zoo has been releasing numbats into the wild each year since 1993.

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