The Tasmanian press reported everything that was newsworthy on the island.
This is the nature of island communities. Important purchases by
the zoo or donations to the Tasmanian Museum were noted regularly in the
press, particularly thylacines. It is therefore safe to assume that
these news stories were verifiable at the time they were printed, and are
consequently true reports.
The late Dr. Eric Guiler's history of "The Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart",
published by the Tasmanian Historical Association in 1986, is still considered
to be the most comprehensive review of the history of the zoo ever undertaken.
Guiler was Australia's leading authority on the thylacine and the sources
for his paper were the diaries and cash books of Mrs.
Mary Grant Roberts and the minutes of the Hobart City Council reserves
committee. As with virtually all historical accounts, new information
comes to light over time that can challenge the accepted truth. This
is true with a number of the entries in Guiler's account of the thylacines
exhibited at the Beaumaris Zoo. There are errors and omissions within
the source records that Guiler, at the time of writing his paper, would
not necessarily have been aware of.
Dr. David Fleay visited
the Beaumaris Zoo (QD) on the 19th December 1933. Fleay was a highly
respected zoologist and an authority on Australia's marsupials. During
his visit to the zoo, he photographed and filmed the last known captive
thylacine, Benjamin. His published comments relating to this
visit are therefore of importance.
In an article entitled
of a Tasmanian Tiger", published in the Courier Mail of the 29th January
1984, David Fleay writes:
"This last captive
specimen domiciled in any zoo (Hobart, 1933) entertained me in his pen
for an hour during my visit. Not long captured and still wearing
the springer snare brand about the right hind leg, this long, lean, softly
padding animal had an ethereal appearance. He regarded me incuriously,
as ceaselessly on the move; he halted now and then to indulge in the widest
yawns I'd ever seen. The distinctive, darker cross-bands decorating
mid-back to tail-base stood out prominently against the overall olive-brown
coat colour. How I longed to get this evidently hungry animal across
the Bass Strait for specialised housing and feeding. However, in
those far-back days a mere struggling teacher had no political pull, and
the urgency of the species status mattered to no one".
Fleay's use of the phrase
long captured" and his observation regarding the snare mark add substance
to Churchill's claim.
Political changes with
respect to the continued existence of the Beaumaris Zoo (QD) were evident
post-1930. The Women's Non-Party League on the 1st March 1931 requested
that the Hobart City Council sell the expensive animals within the zoo
and cease import / export trading. In the early 1930s, there was
also a growing movement against any further thylacines being captured for
display at the zoo.