Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Brought 'Back to Life' in Newly Colorized Footage

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) recently released newly colorized footage from 1933 of the last known Tasmanian tiger, Benjamin. According to Gizmodo, the project was commissioned to commemorate Australia's National Threatened Species Day.

The newly enhanced footage was shared on YouTube on September 6. The clip, originally captured by David Fleay, shows Benjamin wandering around his enclosure at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Australia. He has a yellow-ish/beige coat with dark stripes over his back and hindquarters. When he pauses to yawn, his pink tongue is put on display.

Already, the video has received over 400,00 views.

LiveScience reported that Samuel François-Steininger and his team at Composite Films were responsible for bringing this long-extinct marsupial "back to life."

"For the thylacine [Tasmanian tiger], I faced a different kind of challenge—and responsibility," said François-Steininger in a public statement. "I had to take care of the rare filmed footage and pay tribute to the last representative of a species, which disappeared 85 years ago.

"I care a lot about animals and discovered the story of the thylacine while I was living in Australia in 2012, and it really moved me," he continued.

Benjamin was the last-known remaining Tasmanian tiger at the time of his death in 1936. According to the National Museum of Australia, the species was once the world's largest marsupial carnivore; however, due to habitat destruction and disease, the species went extinct everywhere except Tasmania about 2,000 years ago.

The last known shooting of a wild Tasmanian tiger happened in 1930. Six years later, nearly two months before Benjamin's death, the species was granted protection status. Sadly, however, expeditions organized to catch another thylacine following Benjamin's death have all been unsuccessful. In 1986, the species was officially declared extinct.

To raise awareness for species at risk of extinction, Australia's National Threatened Species Day was created. It is celebrated on September 7 in honor of Benjamin, who died on September 7, 1936.

According to Gizmodo, the colorized footage was commissioned to commemorate the special holiday.

"I am very happy and proud to pay tribute to the thylacine on this special day," said François-Steininger. "I hope this project will help to communicate and raise awareness of plants and animal species at risk of extinction."

François-Steininger explained that he and his team relied on preserved skins found in museums, as well as sketches and paintings to guide the colorization process. This is because no color footage of the thylacine is known to exist.

NFSA Curator Simon Smith confirmed this for Newsweek last year.

"No color footage or sound recordings of the thylacine are known to exist," he said. "However, given that in addition to Hobart and London thylacine specimens were also exhibited in several zoos around Australia and the world—Launceston, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Washington, New York, Antwerp and Berlin—we have hope that such materials might be discovered one day."

Though Fleay's footage wasn't originally shot in color, its recent enhancement is still an exciting development.

Tasmanian Tiger
Benjamin, pictured above, was the world's last known Tasmanian tiger. Benjamin died on September 7, 1936. John Carnemolla / Contributor/Getty