Thylacines as penny attractions in country fairs:

    In an article entitled "The Regatta", referring to the Royal Hobart Regatta, published in the Colonial Times of the 7th December 1844 (p. 3), a captive thylacine is one of the many attractions on show for the amusement of the attending children:

    "For the youngsters there was amusement in plenty. There was a savage hyaena, whot eats off its own nose when it's hungry, for the small price of 1d. The same hyena, be it known, being a native tiger, but nevertheless a very savage, and therefore, amusing creature".

    The Launceston based newspaper "The Cornwall Chronicle", of the 16th October 1869 (p. 7), notes a tiger on display at the Morven Agricultural Society's spring show: "On the ground, on Wednesday some men

Devon Herald  (23 July, 1886)
An advertisement from the Devon Herald newspaper of the 23rd July, 1886 (p.3).
had a tent erected, in which a large native tiger was shown and attracted a considerable number of spectators".  The Cornwall Chronicle of the 2nd October 1874 (p. 2) notes two tigers on display at the Tasmanian Agricultural & Pastoral Association's show: "Another marquee was devoted to the accommodation of a couple of lively looking Tasmanian tigers.  It is hardly necessary to say that these animals were, 'for exhibition only' at the low charge of one shilling per head".

    Walter Jack Mullins, a snarer and trapper, exhibited a family group of tigers at various country fairs around the state prior to selling them to the Beaumaris Zoo (QD).  The Mercury newspaper of the 10th December 1923 (p. 6) notes: 

    "A Tasmanian native tiger and three young ones captured at Tyenna were exhibited at sports in Fitzgerald on Saturday".

Thylacines in private menageries:

    One of the few well documented cases of thylacines being kept in private zoos are those in the care of Sir John Eardley Wilmot, the Governor of Tasmania, who exhibited at least three thylacines in the gardens of his official residence in Hobart between 1843 and 1846.

Sir Eardley Wilmot
Portrait of Sir Eardley Wilmot.
Source: State Library of Tasmania.
Louisa Anne Meredith
Louisa Anne Meredith (1812-1895).
Source: Allport Library.

    Louisa Anne Meredith (1852) wrote in her book "My Home in Tasmania" a detailed account of "Native Tigers".  She states with reference to a thylacine she donated to Sir Eardley Wilmot's collection:

    "I obtained a place for this tiger in Sir Eardley Wilmot's collection; but its untameable ferocity and savageness resisted all endeavours to civilise and tame it, and in consequence, the carefully stuffed skin was eventually preserved, instead of the living form of my ungentle protégé".

    The Cornwall Chronicle of the 14th December 1870 (p. 2) gives an early account of a small private menagerie with a captive tiger in its collection:

    "A very wonderful collection of animals is now on view in the Quadrant, next to Mr. Dowling's photographic establishment.  The Menagerie has changed hands, and the present proprietor feeds his queer friends so liberally, as to put them in much better condition than they were when they arrived in Launceston.  The zebra striped tiger-wolf, the king of the menagerie is in good form and hisses and growls ominously when stirred up and requested to walk round and show his muscle.  The dog-faced, lop-eared kangaroo is the curiosity next in rarity to the tiger wolf; then there are two black ring-tailed opossums, a beautiful ring tailed opossum mouse, with four young ring-tails in a cage, and a venerable looking monkey from Sumatra.  The collection, though not extensive, is a very rare one and is well worth a visit".

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