When I was very small, I had an old VHS of an episode of David Attenborough’s Life on Earth series. It was all about mammals and I remember watching it quite often. Of course, this was many years ago, and I’ve forgotten quite a lot of it. But I remember one particular scene very well. It was this footage, or footage very similar to this.
This is Benjamin and it, like the rest of it’s species, has been dead for 75 years. The footage was taken in the Hobart Zoo, in Tasmania in 1933. Benjamin died three years later after accidentally being locked out of its shelter for the night, succumbing to death from exposure. I remember being very sad at watching this, and somewhat shocked. It wasn’t my first exposure to death but it was my first exposure to extinction, which I could only comprehend as some sort of, well, very large death.
There have been many attempts, since 1936, to prove the existence of or recreate thylacines. Reports come in every couple of years, about as often as Texans see chupacabres, but never lead anywhere. Scientific surveys have come up empty-handed. A very controversial study in the early 2000’s said they were attempting to clone one, but, once again, nothing happened.