The Historical Thylacine Films

There are now twelve (12) historical films depicting the thylacine that are known to survive, ranging from 5 to 59 seconds. One from the first iteration of the Beaumaris Zoo at Battery Point run by Mary Grant Roberts and her husband. Eight from it's second location on the Queen's Domain, sometimes referred to as the old Hobart Zoo. And two films of the last captive animal (female) outside Tasmania at London Zoo (Regent's Park). Seven of these films appear to have been known about for many decades, and at least the Fleay film since it was taken in 1933. While the remaining five films have only been (re)discovered in recent years.


The Seventh Film

The first film to be (re)discovered long after the fact. It was first broadcast on television as part of the thylacine cloning documentary from 2002 (O'Neill, 2002). Navigate to the timestamp 20:20 for the footage:




O‘Neill, Patrick. (Producer/Director/Writer). (2002). End of Extinction: Cloning of the Tasmanian Tiger. Silver Spring, MD: Discovery Channel/TLC.


The Eighth Film

On 4 March 2020 Mike Williams, Gareth Linnard and myself (Branden Holmes) discovered a previously unknown 7 second film of the last captive thylacine, at Beaumaris Zoo (Queen's Domain site) taken sometime between 1933 and 1936. Making it almost certainly the second latest (or latest!) historical film known of the species. It is associated with the wealthy Bester family who had a major pharmacy business and then moved into photographs and film. And conceivably was taken by a member of the family before eventually ending up in the Tasmanian State Library and Archive Service collection where it's significance went unrecognised for many years.

Thylacine expert Adrian Richardson acted as our spokesperson for the breaking story by journalist Ebony Abblitt on 7 Night News Tasmania (Murphy & Abblitt, 2020):



Media coverage at the time:

Breaden, Lucy. (2020). Drive, radio program, ABC Radio Hobart, 13 March. Available online:

Murphy, Peter (host) and Abblitt, Ebony (newsroom). (2020). Nightly News 7 Tasmania. Broadcast 12 March 2020. Available online: youtube[dot]com/watch?v=KujiXlIY20Y

Richards, Blair. (2020). Tiger hunter excited by rare film 'jackpot'. The Mercury, Sunday, 22 March, p. 3.


The Ninth Film

On 1 April 2020, shortly after our discovery of the eighth known thylacine film, Gareth Linnard, Mike Williams and myself (Branden Holmes) discovered the now viral 1935 Cook film containing the latest known footage of the species. Undated at the time, we commenced research which narrowed down the film maker (Sidney Cook) and date (March or April 1935) using clues from the tourism film "Tasmania: The Wonderland" that it was part of.

Again Adrian Richardson acted as our spokesperson, as the footage was again revealed by journalist Ebony Abblitt on 7 Nightly News Tasmania:



The original footage can be viewed here, without competing sounds:




The major story was then picked up by ABC News Australia and aired nationally, which I was interviewed for:




It was then altered for a teenage audience as part of the ABC's Behind the News (BTN) program:



Other media coverage ensued as the story truly went global, being ran by media organisations in far flung parts of the world for weeks afterwards!


The Tenth Film

The second most recently discovered footage of the thylacine, taken by Reverend Harold Doyle at Beaumaris Zoo on the 23rd of December 1930, was again uncovered by Mike Williams, Gareth Linnard and myself (Branden Holmes). The very short clip was deposited in the National Film and Sound Archives (NFSA) collection by John Doyle, Rev. Doyle's son, in 1982. It is the only known depiction of the exhibit sign that was put on the outside of the enclosure after a special meeting on 15 July 1929 (Linnard et al., 2020). We wrote a peer-reviewed paper on the identity of this animal, clearly a male judging by the penile mound at the base of the tail:

"It is suggested that the resulting cumulative evidence best supports the suggestions that the last captive thylacine was retrieved from a treadle snare, in the vicinity of Waratah by 19-year-old Roy and 58-year-old Dan on the evening of Monday 7 July 1930." (Linnard et al, 2020:9)

We released this film through 7 Nightly News Tasmania, which ran a story rightly concentrating on the filmmaker's surviving son, John Doyle, and how the film was lost for decades:




Linnard, Gareth, Williams, Mike and Holmes, Branden. (2020). The parson, the psychiatrist, the publican, and his nephews: the two final thylacine captures in Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings: Tasmanian Historical Research Association 67(3): 6-22. [Abstract]


The Eleventh Film

The Randall Stewart film, taken while he was honeymooning with new wife Dorothy Stewart in Tasmania between 26 March and 17 April 1931, was known up until at least the 1970's before its disappearance. Two stills from the film were published as part of an article in The Mercury newspaper (13 July 1978), and later included in the Thylacine Image Registry (TIR) in the absence of the complete film which had subsequently disappeared (Sleightholme & Campbell, 2021). Mike Williams and Gareth Linnard, and to a lesser degree myself, undertook exhaustive searches to try to track down the footage within the relevant collection, but to no avail and therefore it may well have been stolen from there by person or persons unknown. Then on 23 January 2022, researcher Andrew Vamvatsikos came across the film which had been uploaded to a stock footage website (Pond 5) and recognised its significance as the lost film. 



Linnard, Gareth, Williams, Mike and Holmes, Branden. (2020). The parson, the psychiatrist, the publican, and his nephews: the two final thylacine captures in Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings: Tasmanian Historical Research Association 67(3): 6-22. [Abstract]

Sleightholme, Stephen R. and Campbell, Cameron R. (2021). A Catalogue of the Thylacine captured on film. Australian Zoologist 41(2): 143-178.


Other Films

Tasmanian Countryside, Hobart and Tasmanian Tiger (Australia, c1932):;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22publications/tabledpapers/70516%22


Secrets of Nature - Hold All (1930):