Historical information

The Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger, was a large nocturnal carnivorous marsupial now believed to be extinct that was native to both Australia and New Guinea. The Thylacine is believed to have first appeared over two million years ago with documentation of the species appearing on rock-art that have been dated as far back as 1,000BC.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum and the National Museum of Victoria, as well as individuals such amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


The Burke Museum Thylacine is of great historic, scientific and cultural significance as Australia's most notable example of a species made extinct within living memory. Poignant images of the last known thylacine linger in national consciousness and remain an evocative symbol of the impact of humankind on the natural environment. The Burke Museum thylacine has immense social significance not only for its ability to tell a story to present and future generations, but also for embodying the mythic tiger that lives on elusively, we hope, in the Tasmanian wilderness. Attempts to clone the thylacine from material held in museums attest to the passion that this iconic animal evokes in the scientific as well as mainstream community.

Physical description

Medium sized lean female thylacine with four stocky legs and a stiff tail. The fur is short and coarse and in a light brown-yellow colour with 15 dark brown stripes across the width of the body. The head is long and narrow with two small pointy ears and a large jaw with up to 30 visible teeth.