Back in the 1930’s there was a lean, wolf-like marsupial laying curled up in the corner of a cage down under in the Hobart Zoo. We’re not sure whether ‘Benjamin’ was a male or female thylacine or “tiger” as the Australians called them. One thing we are sure about was that this strange creature would happen to be the last marsupial “tiger” or “wolf” to be seen alive.
There have been numerous claims by people since then to have seen “tigers”. But, none have been verifiable and so the label, “extinct” has remained for the impressive animal. This is the fate of so many creatures with ever growing frequency. Here in the US, we very nearly lost our great bald eagle due to the careless use of DDT. It was a little different for the tiger, though. Like the wolf, they were considered a threat to livestock and a bounty was put on them. In a few short years they would be gone.
Captive specimens like “Benjamin” didn’t fare well and only lived a few months and a year or so at best. Benjamin died and all we have are some short grainy black and white movie clips and some stuffed examples or hides still around. For a while there was talk of using a young baby animal preserved in a jar to extract DNA and attempt cloning. The DNA, though was in too poor of condition due to the preservative solution in the jar.
Today, the thylacine “tiger” is symbolic of the many creatures we have lost over the years. I can’t imagine the love and care that went into the design of such a fine animal. As many wonderful creatures leave this world, mostly due to our carelessness, they’re design code may well remain in the mind of Benjamin’s Creator. Like a work of fine art, to be treasured forever. But, no longer given to our trust.