The last Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf was believed to have died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 and no confirmed sightings have occurred since. A news team visiting a remote village in Thailand found a strange barking cat with stripes. Is this the return of the Tasmanian Tiger or a hybrid of one?
The news team was in the Bang Rakam District in northwest Thailand in early November investigating how residents were surviving the current drought conditions. While filming their story, the crew noticed a strange creature running out of a house. “Strange” means the creature had stripes and looked like a small tiger but barked like a dog.
Why does that tiger bark like a dog?
The unnamed owner said she gets this question often from other villagers. She swore she didn’t paint the stripes on it and has no explanation for how the creature got them or whether it’s a cat, a dog or something else.
That “something else” could be a Tasmanian tiger or some variation of it. The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus, also called the Tasmanian wolf) was native to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. The largest known modern carnivorous marsupial was already rare when the British first visited Australia but a small population survived in Tasmania until the 1930s when Benjamin, the last known captive Tasmanian tiger, died in the Hobart Zoo.
Called the Tasmanian tiger because of its stripes and Tasmanian wolf because of its canine looks, the thylacine was actually a large, carnivorous, predator marsupial more closely related to the Tasmanian devil or the banded anteater and one of only two marsupials with both sexes having pouches.
Is the barking tiger of Thailand a Tasmanian tiger or a hybrid of one? It definitely has stripes (although they cover its entire body and not just its back) and it looks and barks like a dog. It’s difficult to tell if it has a pouch and, unless it’s a puppy, appears to be smaller than a Tasmanian tiger. It’s a long way from the native habits of the thylacine, but it could be a descendant of a zoo animal. That was one of the explanations for a possible dodo sighting in Costa Rica earlier this year.
Tasmanian tiger, strange dog, weird cat, hybrid, new species, hoax or something else … what do you think?