Benjamin the Last

Many of the photographic images of thylacines  you can find in the public domain are of the last remaining thylacine to die in captivity. She died on 7 September 1936. The heartbreaking story of how she died from exposure, locked out of her pen at night, is recounted in Robert Paddle’s (2000) extraordinarily detailed book, ‘The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine’, which is a must read for anyone interested in how the thylacine became extinct in living memory. The last thylacine is often referred to as Benjamin, which mistakenly gives the impression that the last thylacine was male. In fact, Paddle shows, the information that the thylacine was called Benjamin (or ‘Benjy’) comes from an unreliable source, and it is clear from looking at the images that the last thylacine was not male.

Its not quite finished, but I have titled one of my paintings for my upcoming exhibition at the Moore’s building (opening 27th April) ‘Benjamin the Last’. Even though Paddle’s account makes it clear that this was not the last thylacine’s name, the name ‘Benjamin’ has entered into the public domain as surely as have the photographs of her.

Benjamin the last
Katie Glaskin / Benjamin the Last /Acrylic and gesso on canvas /112cm x 76.5cm/ Based on David Fleay’s 1933 photograph of ‘Benjamin’, the last thylacine in captivity, at the Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart

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