Newly discovered film footage of Benjamin, the last Tasmanian tiger, has been resurrected! There was previously around 3 minutes of video footage of this marsupial predator.
The most recent find adds a brief but magnificent 21 seconds of footage of the remarkable beast strolling about his area. Benjamin is displayed in stunning 4K, in keeping with contemporary archival presentations.
Benjamin, the last known thylacine, is held in captivity in Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo (Tasmanian tiger). His unique look, which was called “tiger-like” because of the stripes on his back, was captured on celluloid 85 years ago.
The “new” footage was released by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA). “These images had not been seen by the world in years, until they were discovered and brought to our notice by researchers Branden Holmes, Gareth Linnard, and Mike Williams from the Tasmanian Tiger Archives,” the group said in a statement. “They discovered the image in a long-forgotten travelogue called Tasmania, the Wonderland (1935).”
This was shot by Sidney Cook, who the NFSA describes as “an unknown pioneer of Australian cinema who had really worked in the Salvation Army’s Limelight Department.” “Zookeeper Arthur Reid and an assistant rattle their enclosure at the far right of the frame, seeking to encourage some activity or maybe provoke one of the marsupial’s famed threat-yawns,” according to the clip.
Despite the spectacular setting, Benjamin is said to have had a miserable day at Beaumaris Zoo. He’d been removed from the Florentine Valley and spent the remainder of his life away from his native environment. “The long, sad narrative of what was the world’s biggest marsupial carnivore and its very public collapse has tormented Australians,” says Australian Geographic.
What happened? Sadly, Benjamin was unable to find refuge one evening due to frigid temperatures. When he was forced to sleep on concrete, he acquired a chill that he never recovered from. He d.i.ed the year after Cook reported him, in 1936. Surprisingly, the director passed away a few months later. According to the National Museum of Australia, Benjamin died as a result of “suspected mi.s.t.reatment.”
All vestiges of the thylacine vanished with Benjamin. Since then, the animal has taken on almost mythological proportions. The last Tasmanian tiger may have been sold into slavery, but history tells a different narrative. “The thylacine roamed over New Guinea and mainland Australia for thousands of years,” adds Mongabay.
Thylacines were thought to number 5,000 when Europeans came to claim the continent for themselves. Many of the newcomers were farmers who brought cattle with them. When pieces of their money were taken – rather, as items were devoured! – attention was drawn to the tigers.
“Despite evidence that feral dogs and general mishandling were responsible for the bulk of stock losses,” according to the Museum, “the thylacine became an easy scapegoat and was reviled and disliked by the Tasmanian population.” The bulk of the common predators were ki.l.led off by hunting, illnesses, and habitat degradation.
They were in bad shape by the 1920s, and extermination was not far away. The Museum quotes “Mr. A.W. Burbury” from The Examiner (Launceston) in 1937. He said that there was “no solid proof that the Tasmanian tiger was now present.” The Museum honors the tigers with a collection that “includes what is considered to be the sole entire ‘wet specimen’ that has survived” (a biological specimen kept in preserving liquid). Other items include two thylacine pelts, a skeleton, and more than 30 body parts preserved by the Australian Institute of Anatomy. ”
Sadly, only two months before Benjamin’s passing, the government agreed to safeguard the species. Is it, however, the end of the story? Some people assume the Tasmanian tiger has disappeared from the map, but not everyone. And it’s possible that not all nature lovers are motivated by scientific curiosity. In 1984, for example, famed businessman Ted Turner paid a whopping $100,000 for confirmation of thylacines. There were more trips, but years later, it was officially said that the species had died out.
Following that, in 2016, a study indicated that Benjamin may not have been as alone on the earth as he thought. According to Australian Geographical, “based on the thylacine’s range and findings prior to 1936, they estimate 200–400 thylacines survived until the 1930s.” Based on the same reasons and evidence presented by a number of credible specialists, they believe that some thylacines survived until the 1940s. ”
Benjamin may be able to recognize the ruins of his civilization after spending so many years inside the constraints of a black and white display. Others are worried that the disaster could happen again, but these precious seconds give fans of the “Tassie tiger” a glimpse of hope.