Rare footage of the last living Tasmanian tiger unearthed, shared online

Rare footage of the last living Tasmanian tiger unearthed, shared online

Joshua Bote
USA TODAY

Published 2: 30 PM EDT May 19, 2020

A 21-second-clip recently unearthed and digitized shows the last remaining footage of a living Tasmanian tiger.

The black-and-white eclip, recorded in 1935 and released by Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive, shows Benjamin, the last confirmed living Tasmanian tiger, roaming around an enclosure in the now-closed Beaumaris Zoo as a man attempts to cajole the now-extinct creature into activity. Benjamin died in 1936.

The footage was initially recorded for “Tasmania the Wonderland,” a travelogue released in 1935, per a release from the NSFA.   

Benjamin died a year after the recording on Sept. 7, a day now commemorated in Australia as National Threatened Species Day.

Tasmanian tigers, also known as thylacines, were found on the island of Tasmania off Australia’s south coast until they were hunted to extinction. They typically had stripes, a pouch, and a dog-like head with powerful jaws, per the Australian Museum.

In recent years, eight sightings of the extinct marsupial have been reported to the Tasmanian government — along with multiple unofficial sightings recorded and shared online. The sightings took place as recently as 2019.

None of these sightings have been authenticated by the government, and none of the images or videos circulated online are high-quality enough to be verified.

“The scarcity of thylacine footage makes every second of moving image really precious,” said NSFA curator Simon Smith in a statement. “We’re very excited to make this newly-digitized footage available to everyone online.”

Contributing: N’dea Yancey Bragg, USA TODAY. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote.

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