.
THE THYLACINE IN CAPTIVITY:
- BENJAMIN: THE LAST KNOWN CAPTIVE THYLACINE -
(page 6)
.

 
.
Churchill's hut saved for posterity:

    In 2006, Col Bailey, a friend and contributor to the Thylacine Museum rediscovered the location of Churchill's hut.  The hut, although still standing, was at risk from nearby logging concessions and in urgent need of restoration.  Bailey, who had interviewed Churchill in 1969, took it upon himself to have the hut listed and preserved for future generations.  To his credit, Bailey succeeded, and conservation work began on the structure in 2007 with a grant provided by Tourism Tasmania.

.
Elias Churchill's hut - image  Col Bailey
.
Elias Churchill's hut (2006).  Photo courtesy: Col Bailey.
.
Elias Churchill's hut - image  Col Bailey
.
In 2007, conservation work was carried out on Churchill's Hut with a grant provided by Tourism Tasmania.  Photo courtesy: Col Bailey.
.
Benjamin's gender?:

    Not only was the source of Benjamin disputed, but opinions, until rather recently, were divided regarding this individual's sex. 

    As noted in the introductory comments, Robert Paddle, in his book "The Last Tasmanian Tiger", states that the name "Benjamin", and therefore the implied sex of the animal, were derived from a dubious interview given by Frank Darby.

    Paddle asserts that none of Fleay's photographs or film footage of Benjamin give any indication that the animal was male.  He notes that the scrotal sac of the male thylacine is pendulous and would normally be evident when the animal is relaxed, and argues that it is reasonable to assume that the absence of such an obvious sign of maleness implies that the animal was female.

.
David Fleay with platypus - Healesville Sanctuary - 1944
.
David Fleay with a mother platypus (on the right) and her baby at the Healesville Sanctuary, Victoria, in 1944.  Dr. Fleay was the first to succeed in breeding the platypus in captivity.
Photo courtesy: David Fleay Trustees.
    The alternative position in the debate is that Benjamin was a male.  In a newspaper article published by David Fleay in the Melbourne press (Australasian, 20th January 1934 [p. 43]) one month after his return from Hobart he states: 

    "First & foremost is a fine male marsupial wolf, actually the sole member of its kind in captivity today".  He continues, "The big fellow in the zoo was not a safe companion inside his enclosure, and while photographs were being taken Mr. Reid had to ward him off continually with a paling".

    Note Fleay's choice of words "big fellow" and "him", confirming that the animal was male.  In the September 1963 edition of the National Geographic Magazine, Fleay once again confirms the thylacine's sex:

    "Early observers marvelled at the creature's huge jaws 'opening almost to the ears'.  Some idea of this is conveyed in the photograph I took of the last one ever kept in captivity.  This male specimen, fed on horse meat and hungry for variety, sidled up to me as I knelt in his cage and slightly attempted to add my leg to his bill of fare"  (Fleay 1963).

.
.
References
.
back to: Benjamin - The Last Known Captive Thylacine (page 5) return to the section's introduction forward to: Benjamin - The Last Known Captive Thylacine (page 7)


Search the Thylacine Museum
Site Map
Website copyright © C. Campbell's NATURAL WORLDS.
Photographs and other illustrations (where indicated) are © C. Campbell's NATURAL WORLDS.
Other photos and images are © their respective owners.
.