Thylacine, commonly known, as the Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped lower back), once native to continental Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, it is believed to have become extinct in the 20th century.
Surviving evidence suggests that it was a relatively shy, nocturnal creature with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch (which was reminiscent of a kangaroo) and a series of dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back (making it look a bit like a tiger). Like the tigers and wolves of the Northern Hemisphere, from which it obtained two of its common names, the thylacine was an apex predator.
The last captive thylacine later referred to as “Benjamin”, was trapped in the Florentine Valley by Elias Churchill in 1933, and sent to the Hobart Zoo where it lived for three years. Frank Darby, who claimed to have been a keeper at Hobart Zoo, suggested “Benjamin” as having been the animal’s pet name in a newspaper article of May 1968. However, no documentation exists to suggest that it ever had a pet name, and Alison Reid (de facto curator at the zoo) and Michael Sharland (publicist for the zoo) denied that Frank Darby had ever worked at the zoo or that the name “Benjamin” was ever used for the animal. Darby also appears to be the source for the claim that the last thylacine was a male; photographic evidence suggested it was female. No-one was unable to uncover any records of any Frank Darby having been employed by Beaumaris/Hobart Zoo during the time that Reid or her father was in charge and noted several inconsistencies in the story Darby told during his interview in 1968.
Benjamin died on the 7th of September 1936. It is believed to have died as the result of neglect—locked out of its sheltered sleeping quarters, it was exposed to a rare occurrence of extreme Tasmanian weather: extreme heat during the day and freezing temperatures at night. The thylacine features in the last known motion picture footage of a living specimen: 62 seconds of black-and-white footage showing it pacing backwards and forwards in its enclosure in a clip taken in 1933, by naturalist David Fleay. National Threatened Species Day has been held annually since 1996 on 7th September in Australia, to commemorate the death of the last officially recorded thylacine.
The thylacine had become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before British settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island of Tasmania along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributing factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none has been conclusively proven.