Not only did Doberman have the distinction of being the first male Tasmanian devil born at the San Diego Zoo, he was also the first to be hand-raised in the Children’s Zoo nursery. One of the “waifs whose mothers refused them,” as Children’s Zoo attendant JoAnn Thomas wrote at the time, Doberman was brought to the nursery at three weeks of age, weighing just three ounces.
Unlike the other young charges—primates and species of cats the nursery had cared for in the past—there was no record of any milk formula for this type of marsupial. Resourceful nursery staff members were able to create a diet with a recipe including evaporated milk, water, and a commercially made, canned “kitty milk.” Soon, Doberman graduated to “Gerber’s strained beef and beef heart,” and ZuPreem, a commercially available homogenized diet. Not only did Doberman survive, he thrived. At nine months of age, he joined his sister (who had stayed with their mother) in the new Tasmanian devil enclosure at the Zoo.