By Tim Binnall
A trio of Australian researchers working with government archivists in the country have unearthed a remarkable 21-second film of the Tasmanian Tiger that is believed to be the final footage of the creature living in captivity. The tremendous find was reportedly made by Gareth Linnard, Branden Holmes and Mike Williams while scouring through the catalog of Australia's National Film and Sound Archive. Providing a fantastic glimpse of the now-extinct creature, the scene comes from a travelogue titled Tasmania The Wonderland which was filmed in the early part of 1935 at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania.
What makes the footage particularly significant, beyond its excellent clarity, is that the creature featured in the movie is, in fact, the legendary 'Benjamin,' who was the last living thylacine kept in captivity. This is noted by an unidentified narrator in the movie who explains to the audience of 1935 that "the Tasmanian Tiger is now very rare, being forced out of its natural habitat by the march of civilization." Little did the speaker know that the scene would wind up being the final time that a living thylacine would be captured on film as Benjamin perished in September of 1936.
By virtue of it being part of a newsreel from 1935 that was kept in the National Film and Sound Archive, it is likely that the footage has not been seen by the general public for a whopping 85 years. And while it is undoubtedly an amazing look at the famed creature, the scene is also rather heartbreaking as it shows Benjamin living out his final days in, as Holmes described it, "a bare concrete cage walking around, being riled up" by onlookers.
The newfound footage is the second such piece of film discovered by the trio of researchers, who also unearthed a much shorter clip from a different Australian government archive earlier this year. In light of their success so far, the group is hopeful that additional 'lost' movies can be located in other similar catalogs or possibly in the hands of private citizens who may unwittingly possess a priceless piece of historical material that is currently collecting dust somewhere in their home.