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The Historical Thylacine Films

There are now ten (10) historical films depicting the thylacine that are known to survive, ranging from 5 to 54 seconds. One from the first iteration of the Beaumaris Zoo at Battery Point run by Mary Grant Roberts and her husband. Seven 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). Six of these films appear to have been known since they were taken, while the remaining four have only been discovered in recent years. An eleventh film is known to have been made, and definitely survived until at least the 1970's but it's current whereabouts are unknown.

 

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:

 

 

References:

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: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/hobart/programs/drive/tas-tiger/12053102

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 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 mself (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." (Ibid., p. 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:

 

 

 

References:

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]

 

Other Films

Tasmanian Countryside, Hobart and Tasmanian Tiger (Australia, c1932): https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/publications/tabledpapers/70516/upload_pdf/NationalFilmSound2013.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22publications/tabledpapers/70516%22

 

Secrets of Nature - Hold All (1930):