The earliest account of a thylacine taxidermy in Tasmania is that which
appeared under the heading "NON-DESCRIPT ANIMAL" in the Hobart Town
Gazette and Southern Reporter of the 5th April 1817 (p. 2):
"A few weeks ago a male animal of the tyger species was killed on the premises
of Edward Lord Esq. at Orielton Park; it measured 6 feet 4 inches from
the tip of the nose to the extremity of the tail. It was long a terror
to the numerous flocks in that neighbourhood and had at different times
destroyed a number of sheep. It required the joint exertions of two
dogs, and the stock keeper,
collection in Paris
(MNHP 2000-153). The specimen is dated pre 1789, and is reputed to
have been in the cabinet of King Louis XVI. If this is indeed the
case, the specimen may have been collected as an unidentified curiosity
on one of the early French voyages to Van Diemen's Land.
it was killed. It is now stuffed and in a high state of preservation,
and has been viewed by the curious from the adjacent districts".
The ITSD (2013) notes that the oldest surviving taxidermy specimen is that
of an adult male housed in the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle's
MNHP 2000-153. Courtesy: Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle.
N. Ayliffe. Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013).
records exist to corroborate this early date, but the taxidermy was certainly
in the museum's collection prior to 1830, as it appears as an illustration
in the 1830 edition of "Centurie Zoologique" by R. P. Lesson and
the 1836 edition of George Cuvier's book, "Le Règne Animal".
by Jean Louis Coutant, from R. P. Lesson's "Centurie Zoologique".
collection of Dr. Stephen Sleightholme.
by Fournier, from G. Cuvier's "Le Règne
Animal". Private collection of Dr. Stephen Sleightholme.
In an article entitled "The Australian Museum" printed in The Sydney
Morning Herald of the 5th October 1868 (p. 5), three thylacine taxidermy
specimens are noted in the museum's collection:
"In the corner of the room is a fine stuffed specimen of the Thylacinus
cynocephalus, or Tasmanian tiger, a large and ferocious looking wild beast,
curiously partaking of many of the characteristics of the dog and the tiger,
but having disproportionately long hind legs. It is marked with black
stripes on the back, like the tiger of Bengal, but is a long-backed and
singularly ungraceful looking brute. In the first of the three subdivisions
of the great case at the north end of the room there is an admirably-arranged
collection of the mammals of Tasmania, including the Thylacinus, the Dasyurus,
the Sarcophilus, and the Phalangista. There are also two large Tasmanian
tigers, one of which the male appears to have just killed a kangaroo".
Another early reference to a thylacine taxidermy is noted in the Mercury
newspaper of the 7th November 1872 (p. 2), in an article entitled "A
"The native tiger, mentioned in yesterday's Mercury, as having been snared
a few days ago near New Norfolk, is now in the hands of Mr. W. Hissey,
of Elizabeth Street. The skin will be stuffed and the bones preserved
and mounted as an entire skeleton of the animal. The tiger is one
of the most formidable of the marsupial tribe we have seen, and the specimen
we allude to looks as though he could have made great havoc amongst a flock
The Launceston Advertiser of the 23rd May 1844 (p. 2) records a thylacine
kill and notes that the body is to be preserved as a taxidermy:
"A Curiosity - a beautiful specimen of the native hyena was caught a few
days since on the bank of the Tamar in a snare. It has been lying
for inspection at the watch-house for some days. The skin is about
to be preserved and stuffed".
Work on the ITSD established that one of the two thylacine taxidermy specimens
that Temminck noted as being in the Leiden Museum of Natural History in
1824, was not the male he described, but a female that was a later addition
to the collection.
Stephen Sleightholme with the two taxidermy mounts in the Leiden Museum
of Natural History (Naturalis). Photo: N. Ayliffe, International
Thylacine Specimen Database (2013).
In August 2005, Dr. Stephen Sleightholme and curator Dr. Chris Smeenk identified
an anomaly with respect to the specific wording of Temminck's original
paper: "Monographies de Mammalogie" (Vol. I, 1824-1827). Temminck
states that the two specimens (RMNH 39000 & RMNH 39001) within the
Museum of the Bas countries are males. Taxidermy RMNH 39000 and its
accompanying skull are indeed that of a male, and the specimen originally
described by Temminck. Taxidermy RMNH 39001 on the other hand, is
a female with a clearly preserved pouch. Sleightholme & Smeenk
thought it most unlikely that Temminck could have made an error in the
sexing of these two specimens, and deduced that the female specimen could
not have been in the Leiden collection prior to 1824. They concluded
that it must be a later acquisition, incorrectly labelled together with
male skull RMNH 39001. No records could be located to cast light
on the fate of the original male taxidermy, but a skin was sold to the
museum in 1828 by Benjamin Leadbeater of London, and this Sleightholme
& Smeenk thought is the probable source of the female taxidermy now
housed in the museum's collection.
The ITSD (2013) notes that of the 101 known taxidermy mounts, all but five
portray the thylacine standing. Three mounts are in a recumbent position,
one is seated, and one uniquely depicts the thylacine in a wallaby like
stance, standing on its hind legs.
taxidermy [MAN 2632]. Courtesy: Museum Aquarium de Nancy. Seated
taxidermy [NMV C28746]. Courtesy: Museum Victoria. Recumbent taxidermy
[NHMW ST132]. Courtesy: Naturhistorisches Museum Wien. Source:
International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013). Place your pointer
over the above thumbnails to view the full size images.