October 23rd, 2016

Plight of Tasmanian devil inspires Wellesbourne pensioner to pick up pen

Updated: 9:44 am, Apr 04, 2016

AN UNLIKELY creature on the other side of the world has inspired a Wellesbourne pensioner to become an author and adventurer.

In her fight to save Tasmanian Devils, 80-year-old Cat Williams visited Maria Island, off Tasmania’s east coast in the hope of seeing the marsupials in the wild.

Cat worked as a personal assistant for 40 years before retiring and is an all-round animal lover.

So devoted has her love of cats been over the years, she even goes by the name Cat – even though her given christian name is Pat.

Her 11,000 mile adventure was prompted when she discovered Tasmanian Devil numbers were dwindling because of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) – a parasitic, contagious cancer – which causes large tumors to grow on the faces of the marsupials, stopping them from being able to eat.

The disease was discovered in 1996, and because of the rapid spread, the marsupials were listed as an endangered species in 2009.

Determined to do something, Cat and her partner of five years, David Hope, picked up their pens and wrote a fable about the devils and other creatures indigenous to Australia and Tasmania to raise funds to help find a cure for DFTD.

‘Marsupial Misfits’ tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Tasmanian Devil, pademelon and a quoll – the latter two also being types of marsupials found on the Australian island state.

Cat’s trip also took her to mainland Australia, and she hopes Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Melbourne Zoo will both sell the books.

Copies were bought by two bookshops in Tasmania’s capital Hobart.

She was even given the opportunity to enter a Devil’s enclosure at Taronga Zoo with a keeper.

She told the Observer: “Seeing a Tassie up close was incredible! I was so hoping to see one on Maria Island but they are nocturnal and mostly hide away in the day.

“The one I saw was given a kangaroo tail by the keeper and he just demolished every scrap of it.

“They may be small but they have 42 razor sharp teeth, incredibly powerful jaws and are feisty animals.”