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THE THYLACINE IN CAPTIVITY:
- ZOOS, CIRCUSES AND MENAGERIES -
MAINLAND AUSTRALIA (page 3)
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Melbourne Zoo (continued):

    Upon Albert Le Souëf's death in 1902, his son Dudley succeeded as director and carried on his pioneering work.  In December 1906, a letter was received from Launceston City Park Zoo stating that the "Tasmanian wolves and devils were almost extinct".  Dudley Le Souëf proposed visiting Tasmania with his magic lantern slide show to give lectures on the zoo and natural history at places where the thylacine may still be found, and to encourage the locals to donate any animals that were snared to the zoo.  Upon his return, Le Souëf (1907) notes: "Thylacines are now getting scarce as every man's hand is against them - these animals will probably become extinct before many years".

    Dr. Bob Paddle (2012, p. 79) notes that by early 1902, Melbourne had lost 18 out of the 19 thylacines it had on display in the preceding two years to an illness described as being mange or distemper-like.

    In an article entitled "At the Zoo - Australian Animals - An Interesting Study" published The Daily Telegraph of the 15th February 1919 (p. 12) it states with reference to the thylacines on display at Melbourne Zoo:

    "The Tasmanian wolf, also a marsupial, is in such strong demand in England and America that a pair would fetch today about £100.  Alive or dead they are greatly valued as being an extraordinary departure from the usual type of animal, and a class of wolf entirely by itself, yet undoubtedly of the vulpine family.  It has a number of distinct black stripes across its hind quarters, and these are very pretty, marking the dark tawny coat.  Probably they are the nearest approach to blind of any nocturnal animal - that is, in the day time.

animals on display at Melbourne Zoo in 1880
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Animals on display at the Royal Park Zoological Gardens (Melbourne).
lllustrated Australian News, 16th February 1880 (p. 29).
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They have a very dull, unintelligent expression in daylight, but at night are transformed animals.  Their sense of smell is peculiarly wolf-like, and with the exception of the leopard, there is no wild creature that can give such a graceful, true spring at its mark.  The body seems to be all springs, and its movements are most interesting to witness.  They are becoming scarcer each year, and the fine pair at the zoo are much prized".

    The circumstances behind the capture of Melbourne Zoo's last thylacine by Adye Jordon are detailed in an interview with Kerry Pink in the Advocate newspaper of the 15th February 1986 (p. 6):

    "Mr Jordon said neither he nor his snaring partner [Frank Gleeson] knew anything about Tasmanian tigers and doubted whether the animals still existed in the area of bush they intended to snare.  They consequently set only neck snares, rather than leg snares.  But on the morning of the second day in the area they found three Tasmanian tigers in their snares.  'The first was a choked tiger, about the size of a fox.  He was a pup.  The next was a live tiger, same size.  He had walked over the snare but caught his leg securely in it.  A few more snares with half a dozen wallabies and two possums and I came across the mother tiger.  She had evidently decided to return to look for her pups.  She was also caught by the neck and was dying.  She was huge and had evidence that two more very young had been in her pouch, but they had been lost in her struggle for life'.  Mr Jordon said the dead tigers were skinned and the pelts sold to Somerset skin dealer, Mr Tom Shephard for £2/10 each.  Mr Jordon carried the live young tiger out to Mr Edgar Barrett's farm at West Takone, about 8km from the Arthur River camp.  From there, after some difficulty, it was carried on a blinkered pony to Mr Cross' property.  'Mr Cross wrote a cheque for £20 on the spot' said Mr Jordon.  The young Tasmanian tiger was kept at the farm for several weeks while Mr Cross negotiated a sale to Wynyard animal dealer Mr Jim [James] Harrison.  The caged animal was taken from Takone to Wynyard in Bill Bugg's school bus and created considerable interest among the passengers and others who knew of the trip in advance.  Mr Harrison subsequently sold it to Mrs Mary Roberts, of Hobart, for her Beaumaris Zoo".

    The last sentence of Jordon's interview is incorrect.  Mrs. Roberts had died prior to 1929, and her zoo transferred to its new site on the Domain in Hobart.  Jordon's tiger was sold by James Harrison on the 16th October 1929 to the Melbourne Zoo.  It was the last thylacine to be displayed at the zoo, and died the following year (1930).  James Harrison, Tasmania's principal dealer in wild animals, was charged with the task of obtaining a pair of thylacines for the zoo in 1934, but even for a man with Harrison's connections, no further specimens were forthcoming.

Adelaide Zoo:

    Adelaide Zoo is Australia's second oldest zoo, opening its doors to the public on the 23rd May 1883 (Adelaide Observer, 26th May 1883 [p. 31]).  Of the mainland Australian zoos, it is now known to have had the second largest number of thylacines on display after Melbourne.  The zoo is believed to have obtained its first two thylacines from the City Park Zoo in Launceston, in June 1885.  However, in an article published in the Express & Telegraph newspaper of the 27th May 1885 (p. 3) (shown below), mention is made of a marsupial wolf on display that predates the arrival of the two thylacines from Launceston in June of the same year.

    This is possibly a journalistic error relating to Tasmanian devils on display, as no records can be located to confirm the arrival of a thylacine at the zoo prior to June 1885.

    The first thylacines to be exhibited at the zoo were housed in the carnivore enclosure before being moved to the hyena dens.  Subsequent thylacines acquired by the zoo were all displayed in the hyena dens.

Express and Telegraph newspaper, 27th May 1885
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Express and Telegraph newspaper, 27th May 1885 (p. 3).
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entrance to Adelaide Zoo - circa 1883-1890
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Entrance to Adelaide Zoo, circa 1883-1890.
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    Paddle (2012, p. 85) notes that 17 thylacines were displayed at the zoo between 1885 and 1902, although this is now known to have been an under-estimate.
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Thylacines displayed at the Adelaide Zoo (1885 - 1902)
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N Date of arrival A/J/P Sex Source Sold / exchanged Date of Departure Date of death Ref
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1 June 1885 A City Park Zoo (Captured near Bridport) N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum Nov 1886 1, 2
2 June 1885 A  City Park Zoo (Captured near Bridport) Madras Zoo (Sep) 1886 Madras (unknown) 1, 3
3 23/8/1886 A City Park Zoo Madras Zoo (Sep) 1886 Madras (unknown) 3, 4
4 Latter months of 1886 A M City Park Zoo Unknown (Oct) 1887 Unknown 5
5 Latter months of 1886 A F City Park Zoo Unknown (Oct) 1887 Unknown 5
6 Nov / Dec 1887 A M City Park Zoo Probably C. Jamrach (London) (May) 1890 Unknown 6
7 Nov / Dec 1887 A F City Park Zoo Probably C. Jamrach (London) (May) 1890 Unknown 6
8 (Early May) 1889 J M City Park Zoo (exchanged for leopards) Dispatched 2/5/1889 N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum 1891 7, 8
9 (Early May) 1889 J M City Park Zoo (exchanged for leopards) Dispatched 2/5/1889 N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum 1891 7, 8
10 (Aug) 1889? J City Park Zoo N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum Sept 1892 8
11 (Aug) 1889? A F City Park Zoo N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum May 1893 8
12 Late 1892 A M City Park Zoo (exchange) N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum May 1893 8, 9
13 Late 1892 A City Park Zoo (exchange) N/A N/A Pre Oct 1895 9, 10
14 Jan 1897 J M Fitzgerald Circus N/A N/A Died soon after arrival 1897? 11
15 Feb 1897 A F ? N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum 1898 8, 12, 15
16 Feb 1897 A M ? N/A N/A 1898 12, 15
17 Pre 16/8/1897 A F City Park Zoo N/A N/A Mid 1900 13
18 15/6/1898 A M City Park Zoo N/A N/A (Sep) 1901 14
19 (Nov) 1898 A F City Park Zoo N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum
12/7/1901
15
20 (Nov) 1898 P M City Park Zoo N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum
26/1/1899
8, 15
21 (Nov) 1898 P M City Park Zoo N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum
2/2/1899
8, 15
22 Pre (Jul) 1901 A M City Park Zoo? N/A N/A (Sep) 1901 16, 17
23 ? J F ? N/A N/A Body donated to SA Museum
13/9/1902
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Listing largely derived from Paddle (2012) & Moeller archive records.
A/J/P Adult / Juvenile / Pup
Family group
Short dates are formatted Day/Month/Year.
References: 1. Tasmanian News 12/6/1885 p. 3; 2. South Australian Register 10/11/1886 p. 3 (donation); 3. Paddle (2012); 4. South Australian Advertiser 24/8/1886 p. 4 & Evening Journal 23/8/1886 p. 2; 5. RZSSA 1887 p. 12 / South Australian Weekly Chronicle 24/9/1887 p. 11 / The Express & Telegraph 29/10/1887 p. 3; 6. Stock list RZSSA 1888 p. 12; 7. South Australian Register 28/9/1889 p. 6; 8. ITSD 6th Revision (in press); 9. Launceston Examiner 9/3/1892 p.3 (exchange request); 10. Border Watch 12/10/1895 p. 4; 11. Launceston Examiner 3/7/1896 p. 5 (source); 12. Adelaide Weekly Herald 12/2/1897 p. 5 (arrival date); 13. Evening Journal (Adelaide) 16/8/1897 p. 2; 14. RZSSA 1929 15/6/1898; 15. Adelaide Observer 26/11/1898 p. 28 (arrival) of family group and indicator of death of list numbers 15 & 16; 16. The Advertiser 8/7/1901 p. 11 (arrival); 17. Adelaide Advertiser 25/7/1902 p. 6 (death).
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(Research on this listing is ongoing and further information will be added as it becomes available.)
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References
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