Lament for the Thylacine

I was out Christmas shopping yesterday. I heard on the radio yesterday that the remains of the world’s last known thylacine were found in a Tasmanian museum.

When I was a boy, I was fascinated and sad reading about extinct animals. Dinosaurs, not so much. But recent ones like the Carolina Parakeet and the Passenger Pigeon.

Perhaps no species extinction has struck me as much as the one also known as the Tasmanian Tiger. In sixth grade I became fascinated with all things Australia. (Still have yet to get there.) And animals, the strangeness of the marsupials–how they had some parallel similarities with placental mammals in the northern hemisphere, but were totally unrelated. The thylacine resembles a dog with a fox’s head more than a tiger, despite those stripes above its hind legs.

Coat of arms of Tasmania.svgWrongfully accused and executed for livestock raiding in the Australian island state, today Tasmania honors the thylacine on its coat of arms, left.

For drivers, they can identify their vehicle with the cartoon version of the animal peeking out from grass.

What to make of this rehabilitation, after the end?

I found this lyric here:

They alliterated me,
called me the Tasmanian Tiger,
me, a marsupial.
They think they obliterated me,
but here I am, lurking
in the murky shadows
between sorrow and laughter,
cowering in sun burnt woods.
I only come out at night,
and you are waiting to find out
if my bark is worse than my bite.

Kim M. Russell, 20th December 2018

I suppose it is the smallest sliver of hope this fine animal is still out in the wilds of Australia. Unconfirmed sightings from Western Australia, thousands of miles from Tasmania, are numerous. But the species was long eliminated from the main continent by the time Europeans arrived in the 1600s. Or so it is supposed.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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