- Written by AYR ADMIN
- Category: Thylacine
- Last Updated: 08 February 2006
- Created: 08 February 2006
18 May 1999 AUSTRALIA:
Legend which is stronger than reality.
By Michael Moore.
The tiger is dead! The tiger is dead! Or so declares world-renown thylacine expert Dr Eric Guiler, retired zoology professor of the University of Tasmania. It is true that in the 60-plus years since the last Tasmanian tiger died in captivity at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart in 1936, there has been no verifiable scientific proof of any other tigers existing in the wild. It's upon this mountain of non-evidence that Dr Guiler stakes his claim in the tiger's non-existence. There is no person more qualified to make such a declaration than Dr Guiler. It is his more than 40 years of dedicated research of the Tasmanian tiger that has helped turn the tiger into our state's most cherished symbol. The Tasmanian tiger can now be seen everywhere. It is plastered on billboards and beer bottles.
It is a centrepiece of our state's marketing brochures. It's growling, menacing image graces our state's cricket uniforms. It's peeking through the grass on our official government logo. It stands at attention as part of our state seal. Thus, Dr Guiler's assertion that the Tasmanian tiger is no more, no matter how scientifically sound, is meaningless. The legend has outgrown the reality. The mythology has outgrown the biology. Mystery, Just because it is logistically impossible for the fat guy in the red suito fly around the world in a deer-drawn sled and deposit presents under indoor firetraps does not mean there is no Santa Claus. Just because a rabbitdoesn't even lay chocolate eggs, let alone freely distribute them does not mean there is no Easter Bunny (or Easter Bilby for that matter).The Tasmanian tiger is here to stay. The mere lack of scientific evidence will not make it go away. In fact, it is this lack of evidence that makes the Tasmanian tiger. The essence of the tiger lies in its mystery. The tiger is grand and wonderful and iconic because it exists in the vague netherworld of maybe. Nothing can erase a maybe, not even Dr Guiler's learned opinion. There is no verifiable proof that there is a God either, but billions of people grasp to the hope that there is. The Tasmanian tiger lives! He will always live.
It will take nothing more than another overzealous tourist in the hinterlands of the North-West misidentifying an undernourished stray dog to completely douse the flickering notion that there is no tiger. People will ceaselessly believe in the mystique of the Tasmanian tiger. It is far too ingrained in our consciousness now. Dr Guiler understands the tiger's mystique better than anyone does. He has helped to create it. But he hopes that by officially closing his book on the subject he can make people realise that by overly-roanticising the Tasmanian tiger we don't lose sight of the fact that ultimately we are responsible for exterminating it.