To our knowledge, the thylacine – also known as the Tasmanian tiger – went extinct on September 7, 1936 (although locals still report sightings) when Benjamin, the last known thylacine known to be in captivity, died at the Beaumaris Zoo in the Tasmanian capital city of Hobart.
A 21-second newsreel clip featuring the last known images of the extinct thylacine, filmed in 1935, has been digitised in 4K and released by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA).
Benjamin’s moment of glory lasts only 21 seconds, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s practically a gold mine of video. Before this discovery, humans had just over three minutes of silent black and white sequences of thylacines.
According to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), this clip contains not only audio, but also the last known film of the Tasmanian tiger.
Unseen by the public for 85 years, the clip has now been digitised in 4K and released online, to remember these enigmatic animals by.
“Though, like the [Tasmanian] devil, [the thylacine] is now very rare, being forced out of its natural habitat by the march of civilization,” the narrator says in the 1935 clip. “This is the only one in captivity in the world.”
“Zookeeper Arthur Reid and an associate rattle his cage at the far right of frame, attempting to cajole some action or perhaps elicit one of the marsupial’s famous threat-yawns,” explains the NFSA.
Even though the species has been extinct for many decades, people still have hope – if only for more lost audiovisuals documenting these creatures.
“As thylacines were exhibited in zoos elsewhere in Australia (Launceston, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide) and internationally (Washington, New York, London, Antwerp and Berlin) after the arrival of film, we remain optimistic that further footage may well surface in other collections,” the NSFA said.
“While the NFSA holds preservation film copies of much of the known surviving footage of the thylacine, the search continues,” a press release from the archive reads.
“Remaining to be uncovered are footage of a thylacine in colour, roaming in the wild or – most hopefully – film with location sound that reveals any sound made by the animal.”