|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:
are now getting scarce as every man's hand is against them - these animals
will probably become extinct before many years".
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".
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
"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
the Royal Park Zoological Gardens (Melbourne).
lllustrated Australian News,
16th February 1880 (p. 29).
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 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.
and Telegraph newspaper, 27th May 1885 (p. 3).
Entrance to Adelaide
Zoo, circa 1883-1890.
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.