hobart-zoo

‘Benjamin’ - The last known Thylacine, (Tasmanian Tiger, Tasmanian Wolf) pictured at the Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, Tasmania. He died on 7 September 1936 - two months after the Tasmanian government was finally persuaded to provide legal protection for the species.

September 7th, 1936

Exactly 80 years ago today, the worlds last captive Thylacine - affectionately known as Benjamin - died at the Hobart Zoo in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. The creatures life was ultimately cut short due to being locked out of its sheltered sleeping quarters and freezing to death in the harsh Tasmanian night. This date of September 7th, is officially thought to be the last time anyone was able to see one of these magnificent marsupials alive in the world.

That same year, the Thylacine would be added to the endangered species list. Fifty years later, the worlds largest carnivorous marsupial would officially be declared extinct due to the direct eradication of the species carried out by human beings.

To honor the memory of Benjamin, Australia celebrates National Threatened Species Day every year on September 7th. This tradition was started in 1996 and this year marks its 20th anniversary.

-The Pine Barrens Institute

The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, was a carnivorous marsupial that lived in Australia up until its extinction in 1936 when the last known Thylacine died at the Hobart Zoo. One of the things that made the Thylacine so special was that the males had pouches alongside the females. The males used their pouch, not to hold young as the females do, but to protect their genitalia from getting scratched by the brush in the wild.

An endling is the term for the last member of a species or subspecies. When an endling dies, it’s species become extinct. There have been several endlings in recent times - Martha, who was the last passenger pigeon, died in 1914 in Cincinnati Zoo. The photo above shows Benjamin, the last Tasmanian Tiger, who lived out the last of his days in Hobart Zoo before he died on 7 September, 1936. Humans can often be an occurring theme in the story of endlings and this was the case for Benjamin, who died of neglect. Probably the most well known endling is Lonesome George, the Pinta Island giant tortoise, who died in 2012.

It’s a sombre day

Today, September 7, marks the 80th anniversary of the death of the last known thylacine (aka Tasmanian wolf/tiger). After keepers forgot to let it in for the night the animal, commonly known as “Benjamin”, froze to death in the outside portion of its enclosure.

Captured in the Florentine Valley of Tasmania in 1933 by Elias Churchill, the animal was sent to the Hobart Zoo where it lived out the last 3 years of its life, many years later becoming one of the main poster children of extinction.

Rest easy Benjamin (??? - Sept 7 1936).

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While no confirmation is known of the name being used, the last known Thylacine is known as Benjamin. There is still debate as to what gender Benjamin was but many believe that it was female. Benjamin died in the Hobart zoo in 1936 due to neglect. It is widely believed that this Thylacine was the last in existence, but many still claim to see them in the wild.

A Phantom in the Wilderness - The Thylacine

This is my next artwork about the recently extinct animals. One of the most famous examples is without a doubt the thylacine. The last known thylacine died 1936 in the zoo of Hobart on Tasmania. There were later claims that its name was Benjamin, but the former zookeeper told that this individual had no name. The last known wild thylacine was shot at the start of the 20th century. 

For a long time thylacines were considered a pest that was said to have preyed on sheep. Later examinations on the jaws of thylacines came to the conclusion that their jaws were to weak for killing sheeps and most kills of sheep are now blamed on feral dogs. But this was learned too late for the thylacine. Maybe.

Because there are still sightings of supposed thylacines in Tasmania and even Australia where the thylacine is said to have gone extinct 3,000 years ago. A good bunch of people believe or rather hope that maybe somewhere in the wilderness of Tasmania some thylacines may have made it.

That’s why I consider the thylacine as a creature between life and death and some sort of forest-spirit that may hide in the wilderness.

You can get prints of this artwork on my shops on Redbubble and Society6

ink drawing with fineliner, watercolours and acrylic markers, 2015

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Beaumaris Zoo Hobart Tasmania

Photography Nick Egglington

Located a short distance from the Tasman Botanical Gardens, the remains of the Beaumaris Zoo provides a grim reminder of captive animal conditions during the 1920s. This facility once housed creatures like polar bears, Lions, and Tasmanian Tigers. Today it is an empty field with very few exhibit structures remaining. To learn more about this zoo click here.