TASSIE TIGER (THYLACINE)

The Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), featured on Tassie’s coat of arms, was an Australian marsupial that, sadly, became extinct in 1936. Despite being nickamed “Tasmanian Tiger” or “Tasmanian Wolf”, the Thylacine belonged to neither the feline nor canine families and was actually more closely related to the Tasmanian Devil and the kangaroo! Like roos, Thylacines would sometimes hop on two legs for brief periods of time.

Thylacines had distinct stripes across their back, rump and tail – leading to their nickname as a “tiger”, while their dog shaped face earned them the “wolf” sobriquet. The full scientific name for the Tasmanian Tiger is Thylacinus cynocephalis. Roughly translated, this means pouched dog with a wolf's head. Like wombats, the thylacine’s pouch faced backwards, suggesting they may have burrowed like wombats do.

Scientists believe Thylacines once roamed mainland Australia, Tasmania and Papua New Guinea. There are thylacine like animals depicted in Aboriginal rock art as far north as the Kimberley region of Western Australia and Cadell River crossing in the Northern Territory and thylacine bones have been found throughout the mainland.

By the time European settlement of Australia occurred, in the late 1700s, the thylacine was only found in the coastal and plains regions of Tasmania. Farmers believed thylacines were responsible for killing sheep, so the Tasmanian government paid a bounty for hunters to eradicate the marsupial.

Since the last known thylacine died at the Hobart Zoo in 1936, there have been many reported sightings. In fact, sightings were a common occurrence until the 1960s, but, sadly, not one has ever been substantiated.

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