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THE THYLACINE IN CAPTIVITY:
- ZOOS, CIRCUSES AND MENAGERIES -
CIRCUSES AND MENAGERIES (page 3)
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Thylacines as Pets:

    Louisa Anne Meredith also made reference in her book to the suitability of "tigers" as pets:

    "I believe that tigers are truly untameable and in that respect, if no other, merit the name sometimes given them of Native Hyena; at least, I know several instances in which young ones had been kept and reared up kindly (chained of necessity); but they never could be approached with safety, even by those who daily fed them; and so, on the whole, are perhaps ill adapted for pets".

    There are a number of historical references of thylacines being kept as "pets", but from most accounts the relationship was never close like that between a dog and its owner.  A good number of these "pet" thylacines were transient acquisitions being kept for a time as living curios until they were eventually sold to zoos.  Arthur Murray, for example, sold his pet thylacine to the Beaumaris Zoo on the 21st July 1925 for the sum of £25.

    The Cornwall Chronicle dated 20th July 1874 (p. 3), notes:

    "In this place is to be seen a native tiger, chained up like a dog.  Mr. Brumby, butcher, has in his possession a very fine specimen of the native tiger, which he keeps in his stable chained up.  The animal, which has been inspected by a large number of people, is comparatively tame, and is of a beautiful brown colour, with black stripes, and was captured at the Sugar Land or Glenn on Mr. O' Connor's estate at the Lakes".

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thylacine - Beaumaris Zoo (SB)
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Collared thylacine (captured by Paddy O' May) with keeper Charlie Newman at the Beaumaris Zoo (SB) circa 1916-1918.  This young thylacine was sold to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney on the 12th October 1918.

    The Adelaide Register dated 10th June 1904 (p. 4) reports:

    "Recently as Mr. H. Turner, of Cluan, on the outskirts of the Glenore district, was going round his traps, he was surprised to find a large native tiger caught by the toes of one hind foot (says The Launceston Examiner).  Mr. Turner was about to secure his prey, when the trap chain broke, but, being an active man, he managed after a stiff chase to get hold of his quarry by the tail, and, protecting himself with a stick, got the animal into a large bag, which he fortunately had with him.  The tiger measures about 5 ft. 4 in. from tip to tip, and its captor has it chained up dog-fashion.  It sulked for a couple of days, but then took to its food all right.  Mr. Turner values his capture at £5". 

    The Cornwall Chronicle of the 20th July 1874 (p. 3) makes reference to the pet tiger of Mr. Brumby the butcher at Longford: "In this place is to be seen a native tiger, chained up like a dog.  Mr. Brumby, butcher, has in his possession a very fine specimen of the native tiger, which he keeps in his stable chained up.  The animal, which has been inspected by a large number of people, is comparatively tame, and is of a beautiful brown colour, with black stripes, and was captured at the Sugar Loaf or Glen on Mr. O'Connor's estate at the Lakes".

    An article in the Launceston Examiner of the 10th May 1884 (p. 1) states:

    "I was shown a very fine specimen of the native tiger today, at Mr. Tucker's stables at the Corners.  The animal has been recently caught by Mr. Percy Tucker, who has chained him up in the stable, just as you would chain up a dog.  He tells me he is undecided whether to sell him or to break him in to work sheep, though he thinks he might prove a little bit hard for this class of work.  The animal seems to take his captivity kindly enough and to be in blooming condition.  He is about the size of an ordinary collie, but longer in the body and is beautifully marked.  Mr. Percy Tucker has caught other tigers alive at different times; one of which was sent to Launceston a short time since.  This last captive was caught in a springer (set about a mile and a half from the centre of the town) by the off forefoot, and it says something for the ingenuity and nerve of his captor that he succeeded in releasing his prey uninjured - single-handed - taking him home and chaining him up as he would his sheep dog".

    Perhaps the closest relationship between a thylacine and its owner was that recalled by Col Bailey in his book "Tiger Tales".  Bailey tells the moving story of Reg Trigg and his pet thylacine Lucy, who after a number of months as Reg's companion, was released back into the wild.  The story concludes two years later with Lucy's return, accompanied by her pups (view details on Bailey's "Tiger Tales").

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References
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back to: Circuses and Menageries (page 2) return to the subsection's introduction forward to: Benjamin - The Last Known Captive Thylacine (page 1)


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