Tasmanian Tiger in Hobart – Forgotten Tasmania Episode 14

Tasmanian Tiger in Hobart – Forgotten Tasmania Episode 14

This lady had a zoo with Tasmanian
Tigers Tasmanian Devils birds African lions you name it she had it right in
the middle of Hobart. I’ve driven past the site over two and a half thousand
times and I didn’t even know it was still there you don’t get much more
forgotten than that g’day and welcome to Forgotten Tasmania I’m John Stephenson. in
the early days of Hobart town 30 acres of Battery Point was farmed by the Rev Knopwood to feed the colony. Governor Sorell was granted 90 acres. Montpelier
Road ran from the waterfront at Sullivan’s Cove up the hill but it
didn’t go as far as Sandy Bay which you accessed via Davey and Byron streets. the
land bounded by Harrington and Davey streets was a burial ground which later
became St David’s Park. in 1824 most of Battery Point was sold to a Mr. Kemode
and in 1842 St George’s church was opened. The Battery Point land was sold
again to a mr. Butler of Butler McIntyre and Butler believed to be the oldest law
firm in Australia still operating. the remaining land became known as Heston
fields and by 1858 Battery Point was a really busy suburb in 1863 Henry Roberts
married Mary Lindsay and they lived in a small house in Sandy Bay called Ashfield.
Mary loved to collect birds and Henry decided to build a bigger house for his
growing family and his wife’s menagerie Henry had started an agricultural
company that would go on to become one of the biggest and most important
companies in Tasmania – Roberts limited. in 1874 Robert’s company auctioned off most
of Battery Point as residential building Lots. eight of these blocks of land
didn’t sell so Roberts bought them himself he built a beautiful house with a massive
gardens and called it Beaumaris it was thought that the house was
designed by Henry hunter but no evidence of that’s been found
either way it’s a fantastic house by 1895 Mary Roberts zoo was well
established and she was encouraged to open it to the public which she did
charging through pence entry fee that means it was never a commercial
enterprise but a private passion no doubt funded by Roberts company success.
Although her husband and family were said to have little interest in the zoo.
Mary added many native animals to her zoo including Tasmanian Devils. she was
the first to breed devils in captivity. the Tasmanian Devil is a unique animal, a
carnivorous marsupial related to the quoll or native cat. it was called the
devil by early explorers due to the screeching noise it makes (Tasmanian Devil sound) in fact it’s smelly, tough and feeds in a
frenzy but it doesn’t spin in a whirlwind like the cartoon version. upon
the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger the devil became the largest carnivorous
marsupial on the planet. they are mature at two years of age and only live about
five years they mostly ate carrion but they are powerful and can easily take
down small animals even larger Wallabies and wombats. their jaws are extremely
powerful the male’s fight over breeding females and usually carry the scars of
these battles. in 1996 scientists identified a contagious cancer called
the facial tumour disease in Tasmanian devils. I would say the devil population
has been decimated but that word means losing 10% and the devils have lost up
to 95% of their numbers and they’re now listed as endangered. they are now bred
in captivity and sent to wildlife preserves all around the world in an
effort to save the species. Mary Roberts was on the right track a hundred years
ago but her most famous animal was the Tasmanian Tiger or thylacine she
purchased many Tigers from trappers and exported them around the world
she sent seven Tasmanian Tigers and 44 Tasmanian devils along with numerous
Wallabies and other animals. the Tasmanian Tiger is a distant relative to
the devil it was large like a dog, a carnivorous marsupial with distinctive
stripes. much has made of the fact that it could open its jaws very wide I’ve
heard many people say 180 degrees but the current science says about 80
degrees. the Tasmanian Tiger was blamed by early colonists for attacks on sheep
and a tiger could certainly take a lamb as it fed on the same sort of things as
the devil. according to new research by Dr. Nic Haygarth the tiger population
was in decline before the government bounty was put on its head. the Tasmanian
Government paid out a pound a head for nearly 2,200 tigers killed over 22 years
Nic’s assertion is that was a significant number, but any species where
a hundred a year causes extinction was already in serious trouble and probably
would have gone extinct anyway without intervention. sadly intervention never
came for the Tasmanian tiger and they are now officially listed as extinct.
Mary’s Tasmanian Tigers had died before her zoo was given to the Hobart city
council and housed on the Domain following her death in 1921. another
tiger was found and joined the zoo in 1934. it died on September the 7th 1936
and is honoured by National Threatened Species Day which now falls on that sad
anniversary each year. the Council ran zoo on the domain closed a year later in
1937 but the site is still there. it’s not open to the public but it was used
by Dark MOFO for an art installation last year. Mary Roberts left a legacy
even bigger than her zoo, she was an incredible person, she founded the anti
plumage League an organisation against the use of animal parts in fashion, she
was a member of the Royal Society, The Art Society the Orpheus Club, the
SPCA which became the RSPCA – the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals and she founded the Girl Guides chapter in Tasmania. she truly saw the
value in our native animals about a hundred years before it became a more
common view, she was an amazing Tasmanian. I’d like to thank the current owners of
Beaumaris for allowing me into their home and Jim Playstead from Knight Frank
Realty for getting me invited to the photo shoot and Jonas Haag from Open2View Tasmania for the use of his drone footage and for being just an all-around
amazing professional photographer. Don’t forget to subscribe to this channel if
you haven’t already, hit the like button hit me up in the comments and I’ll catch
you in the next episode Cheers

Randy Schultz

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