Considered extinct, Tasmanian tigers may be alive and kicking

The last known Tasmanian tiger died in 1936 at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania, Australia, but recent possible sightings in Queensland, Australia, have inspired researchers to search for the marsupial. Photo by Kathryn Medlock/EPA

April 3 (UPI) — Tasmanian tigers once roamed Australia before the last captive thylacine died in 1936. Or so it was believed.

But they weren’t really tigers. And they might not be extinct.

Researchers from John Cook University have been inspired by recent eyewitness accounts to search for the marsupial in northern Queensland.

“It’s a dog with a pouch,” Sandra Abell, one of the people leading the search, told NPR’s All Things Considered.

“It has a very dog-like face,” she says, “but its back and the tail in particular looks a little bit kangaroo-like. Its hind quarters are very distinctive — so they have stripes on the back end and that large tail, very interesting looking.”

Stripes gave the Tasmanian tiger its name. Stripes also give the researchers hope of its existence.

Bill Laurance said two eyewitnesses provided “plausible” descriptions of striped, dog-like animals that are neither dingoes nor foxes.

But the sightings happened at night. So the team plans to canvas the area with dozens of cameras in hopes of catching it on tape.

“I really hope they’re out there,” Abell said. “I think it would be an amazing thing to discover.”


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