| Thylacine joeys leave
their mother's pouch at around 3 months of age, and are dependent on their
mother's milk to around 9 months. Little is known about joey mortality
within thylacine litters. Adult thylacines have no natural predators,
but the recollections of bushmen state that Wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila
audax), and Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) preyed on
their young (Bailey, pers. comm.). Disease would have also diminished
It is known that the first generation of joeys leave the family unit before
the next generation exits the pouch.
The male thylacine has
a pouch-like structure (different from the true marsupium of the female)
in which the scrotal sac is situated. It is believed that this "pseudo-pouch"
performs both a protective and thermoregulatory role.
Captive breeding is
believed to have occurred on a single occasion, at the Melbourne Zoo in
1899 (Paddle 2000).
two photographs shown above are unique in that they may be the only ones
known that depict a female thylacine with a distended pouch bearing young.
The first photo (in which two other adult females are visible in the background)
was taken at the Beaumaris Zoo (QD) in 1928. The source and location
of the second photograph (Courtesy: Natural History Museum, London) is
| An epizootic
disease, often cited in the literature as being mange or distemper-like,
decimated thylacine and other dasyuromorphian
marsupial numbers in the latter part of the nineteenth and the first decade
of the twentieth century, persisting into the late 1920s. Little
genetic diversity exists within the thylacine population, and this would
certainly have had an impact on the thylacine's ability to resist disease.
As a general rule of thumb, the greater the genetic diversity within a
population, the greater that population's ability to resist disease.
| Between 1850 and 1936,
thylacines were exhibited in zoos
throughout Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States and
India. There were three primary points of supply for the for the
export of live thylacines to zoos within Australia and overseas; the Beaumaris
Zoo in Hobart (at both its Sandy Bay and Queen's Domain locations), the
City Park Zoo in Launceston, and the private menagerie of wild animal dealer
Harrison in Wynyard. The vast majority of live thylacines
were procured by and exported through these three centres. Based
on the Thylacine Museum's own research, the total number of thylacines
displayed in zoos is estimated to be 243 animals. This figure is
based on the number of thylacines displayed, and not the total number of
taken from the wild. Consequently, the total is somewhat erroneous
in that it does not reflect transfers, purchases or exchanges between zoos.
78 (32%) thylacines were exhibited in several zoos and therefore appear
in the historical records two or three times. Therefore, a more accurate
estimate of the total number of thylacines taken from the wild is around
165 animals (243 - 78 = 165). It must be stressed that this is an
estimate, and subject to review as research continues. There are
several historical accounts of thylacines being exhibited in circuses,
at least three of which are known to have displayed thylacines in their
travelling menageries. Thylacines were also regularly displayed as
penny attractions at country fairs.
Mary G. Roberts shown with two male thylacines at the Beaumaris Zoo (SB),
circa 1911. These are the same two individuals shown here.
thylacine at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, circa 1902.
known captive thylacine (popularly referred to by the name of
died at the Beaumaris Zoo on the Queen's Domain in Hobart on the night
of the 7th September 1936. It has been argued that this was the "extinction
event" and that this zoo specimen represented the last of its species.
Dr. Bob Paddle (2000), in his book "The Last Tasmanian Tiger", is
an advocate of this position. The alternate viewpoint, championed
by the late Dr. Eric Guiler, Australia's leading authority on the thylacine,
maintains that this was not the case, and that there is substantial evidence
to support the view that the species survived beyond Benjamin's
The "Red List of Threatened
Species", published by the International Union for the Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), classified the thylacine as being extinct in 1986 (McKnight
1986). However, the wealth of sightings
from 1936 until the present day, some from highly reputable sources, cast
considerable doubt on whether the thylacine can as yet be declared extinct.
The Thylacine Museum
invites you on a journey of discovery to learn more about the thylacine;
the most elusive of the marsupial predators.