Thylacine: The Tragic Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacine: The Tragic Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacine: The Tragic Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacine: The Tragic Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger

Excerpt

On 7 September 2002, Threatened Species Day was once again observed across Australia. In Hobart the blustery, windswept conditions didn't prevent stalls and exhibitions springing up on the lawns at Parliament House. Conservationists and politicians gave interviews for television and radio. The deliberately chosen date is a sorry one in Tasmanian history, for it was on 7 September 1936 that the last known thylacine, commonly known as the Tasmanian or ‘Tassie’ tiger, died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo, victim of the Depression, neglect and a century of deliberate species persecution.

In an unintended, eerie coincidence, the northern city of Launceston hosted an auction that very morning, the centrepiece of which was a rug made of eight thylacine skins. It had reputedly been purchased for three pounds early in the twentieth century, since when it had remained in private hands. Now the State's two main museums and a hotel group had jointly purchased the rug for over a quarter of a million dollars. Was it right to spend all that money on memorabilia of an extinct species on the very day devoted to raising funds to help endangered ones?

This is but one more controversial and sadly ironic chapter in the ever-expanding saga of the Tasmanian tiger, the mysterious marsupial predator that evolved over tens of millions of years . . .

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