As with the film footage of the last known imperial woodpecker or the remains of the last passenger pigeon, seeing video of the final member of any animal’s kind is sad and eerie, and a good reminder of how fragile our planet and its life-forms are. So it is with this 1934 footage below of the last Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), the world’s largest marsupial carnivore. The average Tasmanian tiger weighed about sixty-five pounds and had a nose-to-tail length of six feet.
Zoos are sometimes the home for such lone survivors. The female Tasmanian tiger depicted in this video was the last one to be captured and died in Tasmania’s now closed Hobart Zoo on September 7, 1936. The last wild Tasmanian tiger was killed between 1910 and 1920. In 1986, the species was declared extinct.
But where there is the last of any animal we pine for, there is always hope — and sightings. Over the years, many have reported seeing fleeting glimpses of the tigers in Tasmania’s remote forests. None of the sightings has been confirmed.
That doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. I can tell you that a similar scenario happened in Wisconsin, where I live. The cougar was said to have been extirpated in the state in 1925. But over the years, people reported numerous sightings, only to be told by Department of Natural Resources experts that Wisconsin had no cougars. In 2008, we got our proof that they are, indeed, here. Who knows for how long they managed to avoid us?
Let’s hope that out there somewhere, the Tasmanian tiger, too, is hanging on.