Here is the Smithsonian thylacine as it currently appears in the museum’s Hall of Mammals. This individual was a female that lived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. from 1902 to 1904. She was carrying three pouch young upon her arrival, two of which survived to adulthood (a male and a female, pictured here). Thanks to this little family, the Smithsonian has an impressive collection of thylacine material, but only the mother’s mounted skin is viewable by the public.
Unfortunately, this lovely specimen is displayed behind a fabric curtain in an effort to drive home the concept of extinction. If you go around the side of the display, you can barely catch a glimpse of her rear end.
The exhibit claims that the dingo was responsible for the thylacine’s extinction on mainland Australia, which occurred about 2,000 years ago. New research suggests that the dingo was not really to blame; rather, a changing climate and overhunting by growing Aboriginal populations were the likely causes. [x]
In case you’re curious, here’s a rare “pre-curtain” photo from Flickr:
For more information about the Smithsonian thylacine and her legacy, click here.