The lost Tiger of Tasmania

The Tiger

The lost Tiger of Tasmania

The last known Tasmanian Tiger died in 1936, in the Australian Hobart Zoo. That animal was the last living specimen and since that time the Tasmanian Tiger is believed to have become extinct. The Tasmanian Tiger, also called Tasmanian wolf and Thylacine, was neither a Tiger nor a wolf, but a marsupial, and closely related to the Tasmanian Devil.  A marsupial is a mammal whose babies are born incompletely developed and are typically carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother's belly like a Kangaroo.

The Tasmanian Tiger was a leading hunter in Australia and Tasmania. Despite its superficial resemblance to a large dog, the Tasmanian Tiger was actually a marsupial, with no relation to dogs — its doglike features emerged as it evolved to fill an ecological role similar to wolves.

The Tasmanian Tiger reached a body length of 85-130cm with a tail of 28-65cm. It had rather short legs, and therefore a shoulder height of only about 60cm. Its body weight varied between 15kg and 30kg. The fur hairs were short and rough, the colour grey or yellow-brown. The most Characteristic and remarkable feature were the 13-19 dark-brown cross-stripes on the posterior part of the body and on the beginning of the tail.

While it had a scary appearance, Tasmanian Tigers were actually very timid and could be captured without a fight. They would often die suddenly, perhaps from going into shock, according to the Australian government.

Researchers think that Tasmanian Tigers located prey by scent and hunted, for the most part, at night. They would hunt alone or with a partner. They were mostly quiet creatures, but, when hunting, they would make a yapping noise, much like a small dog. 

The species was rapidly viewed as a pest and a dangerous threat to livestock, though many of these claims were highly exaggerated. Over 2,000 bounties were paid by the Australian government between 1888 to 1909 to eradicate the species. A sudden decline in the Tasmanian Tiger population was reported in the early 1900s, and the species was declared extinct in 1936.

For long periods, the Tasmanian Tiger was considered to be one of the largest known meat eating marsupials, a family that also includes the Quolls, Dunnarts, and the Numbat. As it went extinct, the title of being the biggest-known representative of the family went to the Tasmanian Devil, currently another threatened species.

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★★★★

'This Tiger is the cat's meow'

The Times

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'Perfectly pitched adaptation'

Daily Telegraph

★★★★

'A delight from start to finish'

Time Out