In 1863, naturalist John Gould predicted that more people and more development would be the end of the Tasmanian tiger. He was right.
Settlers targeted the animal, believing that thylacines killed sheep. The Tasmanian Government paid a bounty on every thylacine killed between 1830 and 1909. More than 2,000 were slaughtered, and the species never recovered.
What thylacines remained were kept in captivity, and the last one died in 1936 at a zoo in Hobart. In the wild, the animal was officially designated extinct in 1986 after years of fruitless searches.
As I walked away from the thylacine exhibit, I hoped it wasn’t a portent for the future. Australia leads the world in extinction rates, with 29 species lost since colonial times. I wonder what the chances are that one or more of the animals I see every day will end up in a display like this.