Newly released film offers final glimpse of extinct Tasmanian tiger

Footage has been released of what is thought to be the last images of the extinct Tasmanian tiger.

The 21-second film was released by the National Film And Sound Archive Of Australia and is part of a forgotten travelogue, Tasmania The Wonderland, made in 1935.

It shows a tiger named Benjamin pacing around his enclosure at Beaumaris Zoo in the Tasmanian city of Hobart.

The zookeeper rattles the tiger's cage seeking a reaction and the narrator says: "[The Tasmanian Tiger] is now very rare, being forced out of its natural habitat by the march of civilisation."

The NFSA said the film was probably made by Brisbane-based Sidney Cook, although there are no end credits.

The date was confirmed by other events in the travelogue - the annual Regatta Day on the River Derwent and the presence of a goods steamer - Tacoma Star - which docked in Hobart in March 1935.

Benjamin was the last known surviving thylacine in captivity, as London Zoo's specimen died in 1931.

He was acquired by Beaumaris Zoo that same year and died on 7 September 1936, a day which is now National Threatened Species Day.

Mr Cook died in March the following year.

There are fewer than a dozen films of the elusive predator, all recorded at either London Zoo or the now defunct Beaumaris Zoo.

Previously, it was thought that footage of Benjamin from December 1933 was the most recent.

There is no known footage of a Tasmanian tiger in the wild or any footage that reveals the sound made by the animal.

NFSA curator Simon Smith said: "The scarcity of thylacine footage makes every second of moving image really precious. We're very excited to make this newly digitised footage available to everyone online."

But, as the animals were shown at other Australian zoos and zoos in the US, UK, Brussels and Germany, there are hopes more footage could surface in coming years.

According to the Australian Museum in Sydney, Tasmanian tigers became extinct on the Australian mainland no less than 2,000 years ago.

Its extinction in Tasmania was mainly due to humans seeing it as a pest and also the introduction of dogs to the island.

Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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