Unearthed footage shows last-known glimpse of Tasmanian tiger


The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NSFA) posted the footage on Tuesday, announcing “we have released a 21-second newsreel clip featuring the last known images of the extinct thylacine”.

The clip was captured more than 12 months after the previous last-confirmed date of Tasmanian Tiger footage, photographed in December 1933. The new footage was filmed in 1935 and by 1936 the last known surviving Tiger died in captivity.

The clip, from a “forgotten travelogue” titled Tasmania the Wonderland, shows a tiger named “Benjamin”, which the footage claims is the only one in captivity in the world.

The footage of Benjamin was shot at the long-defunct Beaumaris Zoo and Benjamin is seen calmly pacing his enclosure.

“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.

It is believe the footage was shot by Brisbane-based filmmaker Sidney Cook but the travelogue is “incomplete and retains no end credits”.

Fewer than three-minutes of silent, black and white footage exist of the Tiger today and according to the NSFA this is the only professionally produced sound film screened to audiences while a specimen was still alive in captivity.

“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.



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