Newly unearthed footage of the last-known Tasmanian tiger has been made public more than 80 years after it was recorded.
The 21-second clip, which shows the thylacine ‘Benjamin’ at Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo in 1935, is believed to be the last known recording of the carnivorous marsupial.
Benjamin, who died from suspected neglect in September the following year, was the last thylacine to be kept in captivity,
In the vision, which has been digitalised and released by the National Film and Sound Archives (NFSA), men can be seen rattling the thylacine’s small cage.
We have released 21-second newsreel clip featuring the last known images of the extinct Thylacine, filmed in 1935, has been digitised in 4K and released.
— NFSA -National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (@NFSAonline) May 19, 2020
“The Tasmanian tiger … is now very rare, being forced out of its natural habitat by the march of civilisation,” the film’s narrator says.
“This is the only one in captivity in the world.”
Fewer than a dozen black-and-white films remain of the thylacine, adding up to a little more than three minutes.
The vision found in NFSA archives formed part of a travelogue dubbed Tasmania The Wonderland thought to have been shot by Brisbane-based filmmaker and exhibitor Sidney Cook.
“The fact is there just isn’t that much footage of the animal,” NFSA curator Simon Smith said.
“So to find anything, even a few seconds, is significant”.
Prior to this discovery, the most recent footage of Benjamin had been taken in 1933.
He was the last surviving thylacine in captivity after London Zoo’s thylacine passed away in 1931.
It is estimated there were around 5000 thylacine in Tasmania when Europeans arrived, but excessive hunting, introduced disease and habitat destruction resulted in their extinction.
The state government in 1888 paid a bounty of one pound for each adult animal killed.
The species was granted protected status about two months before Benjamin died.