Animals thylacinus extinct animal photographed alive

Published on April 2nd, 2009 | by Bryan Nelson


11 Extinct Animals That Have Been Photographed Alive

The current rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times higher than the average, or background rate, making our current period the 6th major mass extinction in the planet’s history.

Although fossil reconstructions or pictorial representations can sometimes be difficult to connect with, it’s impossible to ignore the experience of seeing a photograph of an animal on the brink of extinction.

Thus, what follows is a list of 11 extinct animals that were photographed while still alive.

Tasmanian Tiger

Tasmanian Tigers

The last Tasmanian Tiger, or Thylacine, known to have existed died in the Hobart Zoo, in Tasmania, Australia, on September 7th, 1936. Despite being the last of its kind, the animal (named “Benjamin”) likely died due to neglect after being locked out of its sheltered quarters during extreme weather.

Although commonly referred to as ‘tigers’, and despite having the look of a canid, the Thylacine isn’t remotely related to cats or dogs. Rather, it was the largest carnivorous marsupial of modern times, meaning it carried its young in a pouch. Its closest living relative is the Tasmanian Devil.

>> Also see our latest post: 10 Animals on the Brink of Extinction

The biggest cause of their extinction in the wild was a massive hunting campaign instituted by the Tasmanian government from 1888 to 1909, justified because the Thylacines were believed to be a threat to sheep and hens. The last known wild Tasmanian Tiger was killed by a farmer named Wilf Batty in 1930, after spotting the animal around his hen house.


The Quagga was a unique variety of Plains Zebra, marked by having stripes only on the front of its body, with hair color transitioning toward a light brown or tan along its rear and underbelly, until becoming white along its legs. This picture represents the only Quagga ever to have been photographed alive, taken at the London Zoo in 1870.

Its unique hide made the Quagga a target for hunters and poachers, and the last known wild Quagga was probably killed in the late 1870′s. The species went extinct on August 12th, 1883, when the last specimen died at a zoo in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger PigeonThe story of the Passenger Pigeon is one of the most tragic extinction stories in modern times. As recently as around 200 years ago they weren’t anywhere near extinction. In fact, they were actually the most common bird in North America, and some reports counted single flocks numbering in the billions.

During some migrations, the flocks flying overhead would stretch for over a mile and could take several hours to pass. It would have been impossible to imagine a North American skyline without them. Yet somehow the species went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world to extinction in only about 100 years. What happened?

Colonial hunters happened. The pigeon meat was commercialized and recognized as cheap food, especially for slaves and the poor, which led to a catastrophic hunting campaign on a massive scale. Furthermore, due to the large size of their flocks, the birds were seen as a threat to farmers. In fact, in 1703 the Catholic bishop of Quebec actually excommunicated the entire species.

The last known Passenger Pigeon, named “Martha”, died in captivity on September 1st, 1914, in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1896, the last flock of 250,000 birds were slaughtered by hunters despite the knowledge that it was the last flock of that size left.

Golden Toad

Golden Toad
The first recorded account of the Golden Toad was by herpetologist Jay Savage in 1966, and the last sighting of the species was made in 1989. The toad, showcased by its brilliant golden orange colorization, was native to the tropical cloud forests which surround Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Their extinction symbolizes a large scale decline in amphibian numbers worldwide over the last several decades, which has likely been caused by global warming and climate change. In fact, famed Australian biologist Tim Flannery has described the extinction of the Golden Toad to be the first demise of a species due primarily to global warming.

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About the Author

has been making up for lost time since finishing his graduate degree in Philosophy by traveling and working to change the world. He has worked with groups like The Sierra Club, Environment America & U.S. PIRG, Environment Oregon & OSPIRG, and Progressive Future on local and national political campaigns. His environmental journalism can be found throughout the web, which also includes regular contributions to Between adventure and activism, he currently can be found doing freelance writing from his home in Hawaii.

214 Responses to 11 Extinct Animals That Have Been Photographed Alive

  1. sam says:

    I hate life. animals are my fav thing ever. and the fact that we dont care about them and we dont give them rights makes me so sad and angry. animals arent any different than us and yet we treat them like, well, nothing.

  2. loler19i says:

    ahahha Syrian WILD ASS ahahaaah tho i feel sorry but the name is so funny whoever came up with that name was seriuosly gay

  3. Taitha says:

    This is tragic! This is the way the last 100 or so years have gone. Are we ready to wake up yet and realize that the animals we have led to extinction is a part of us that we have killed off?
    Can we take our own lives into our own hands and choose Life? When do you turn to look at the person in the mirror and say “I love you, I choose you?” For that is where it really starts. When we can do that, we really will change our outlook and our planet. It starts with you. What will you choose?
    Anger, guilt, denial – these are all avoidance of the real issue of how you treat and feel about yourself and eventually other humans and then our planet. What will you do?
    Just some thoughts to ponder,
    In Love…

  4. Rondald says:

    If we start hunting down the starling as effective as the pigeon we could eradicate that pest also, it is a real problem cutting into our food supply as well as a menacing vector of tropical illnesses.

    • mycam says:

      @ Rondald. What an arrogant thing to say. Who are you to claim any species as a pest, and wish it into extinction. People with that attitude are deluded fools, with no knowledge of science or biology.


  5. Abby says:

    What is wrong with people????????? What did these animals ever do to them. I would love to see all of these animals if it meant a loss of sleep because of the noise or some sheep because THE FARMERS cut away the land where their prey lived! Some of this just makes me sick to the stomach.

  6. that guy says:

    i find the lack of respect for animals embarassing. if there were ailiens invading the earth and killing us off how do you think you would feel? technically we are dieing off cus of faggot killers. but think about it.

  7. Wahh!! says:

    you little girls cry about everything, if they were such great animals they’d still be alive. however they arent, so stop crying over spilled milk and just imagine it as natural selection. i gotta go hunting ill see all of you later you little girls.

    • chasio says:

      you know that the Tasmanian Tiger died because of humans. so i wouldnt call it natural selction. just foolish human behavior.

  8. charlsea says:

    they have to stop killing these animals…… and they did not do anything to the person who kill it and the person who kill it shame on u and hope u do not put u hand on anymore animals……:(

  9. my favourite animal is wolly mammoth. why do they extint? why do they die?

    • alex says:

      They die because the earth constantly changes and they can’t keep up and from the little ammount of reproduction.

    • Riley says:

      Wholly mammoths went extinct around the end of the last major ice age. These behemoths were coated in dense, thick fur and lived in large herds that fed on grasses and similar vegetation. These animals were acclimated to periods of extreme cold and could withstand prolonged winter-like conditions (snow, ice, wind, etc.) When the climate of the Earth began to change due to natural processes, their habitats disappeared. They had to either ascend mountains or migrate further North to withstand the more temperate climate the Earth now supported (which is why many specimens are found throughout modern Russia and Siberia). Although this argument is subject to speculation, ancient humans may have also contributed to the disappearance of the mammoth due to hunting.

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  12. kylie says:

    these animals are the cutest animals on the planet of earth! what do you want to bet they are cuter on mars!

  13. Darleine says:

    This is truly sad, I hate extinction! I see no reason 2 go arund killing animals, why cnt we be vegetarians, its not like were gona DIE if we dnt! Take the Passenger Pigeon for example, they were in the BILLIONS and suddenly their numbr drop down 2 a low numbr! This is outrageous! Animals are as important to society as humans. w/out animals whats going 2 happen to mankind? If i could stop it all I WOULD! And all this hunting season, crap! What the hEck is the point 2 THAT???! I’d like to know, and NOW!

    • alex says:

      aggreed id rather be a vegetarian and stop hunting season its BULL i hope the government relizes tht soon.

    • Luke says:

      I know what you mean and COME ON hunting sprees relly RELLY! this is just bull total BULL I don’t get IT why cant the goverment stop IT!

    • Harry says:

      I dont know about becoming a vegan but everything in moderation. People want to get guns and go all trigger happy damn they need to let shit live long and prosper

    • Thor says:

      hey retard if you don”t eat meat you will die! and hunting is an important part of animal control, would you rather they starve from over grazing, besides for animal protection that”s why the hunting season is so short and you need to apply for tags. and only so many animals in certain areas can be killed in a season, moron read a book

  14. robbie says:

    if these animals are “extinct” and they were “rediscovered” the should be known as lazarus taxons.

  15. alex says:

    Aww that’s awful I feel so bad and they deserved better than this. I wish we’d done more to keep them alive.

  16. Nick says:

    For all the non-meat eating non-hunting people, you should do some research before posting aimless comments attacking hunters. While wrongs in the hunting and harvesting of animals in the past have been done. Modern day hunting is monitered and scrutinized beyond beleif. Things like weather patterns, food sustainabilty for the animals, winter die off (natural casues), breeding patterns, predator ratios. As of current we now have better elk populations than we had 60 years ago. Hunting isn’t just about killing all the animals. Yes I am also a member of the Rocky Mountian Elk Foundation which helps preserve thousands of acres of habit for Elk each year. That way my children can enjoy the responcibilty of hunting too. If it can be hunted there is an orginazation or a dozen nation wide that work to preserve land, habit, and keep over hunting down to provide generations to come. What can you say you did last year to help these Poor animals?

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  18. MrMatlow says:

    it’s a toad……. oh, and it’s golden.

  19. MrMatlow says:

    yeah, those pesky elephants could rise up and take over the planet if they wanted.

    elihi – you are an idiot.

  20. DemiVapor says:

    lets be more worried about the extinction of humans

  21. uighhhgh says:

    1. all of you who are saying “The government should do something to stop animals from dying” “We should all be vegetarian.” are IDIOTS! The government would be overthrown almost instantly if they tried making it so we couldn’t hunt. It is human nature to eat meat. I would love to see any of you vegans try to survive against someone who eats meat and veggies. I have a huge feeling you would fail much sooner than the omnivores.

    2. Animals will die and go extinct. That is just how nature works, if nature didn’t work that way then the Dinos and other extinct animals would still be around. Man doesn’t have the say all when it comes to animal extinction, we CAN”T stop it no matter how hard we try, we can only prolong the inevitable.

    3. not many people are effected by any of these animals going extinct.

    if you feel you can change my mind (which you most likely cant) email me with a legit arguement at (it’s weird I know)

  22. johntrowe17 says:

    hunting is actually used to maintain animails if we didnt hunt more would die from starvation…just saying

    • steph says:

      yes but the difference between humans hunting is that humans go for the most healthy and most beautiful ( the buck with the biggest antlers), while natural predators hunt the weak and sick. When Humans hunt those who have the best genes they leaves the unfit to procreate more unhealthy individuals. Natural predators are the ones who actually keep the weak and sick from procreating. Most of the time when there is a necessity for hunters to hunt to keep populations from overgrowing is due to the fact that the natural predators of these groups have been killed off.

  23. jordan1324 says:

    The point of hunting season is that some ecosystems actually have too much of an animal, which is why we hunt, balance it out, and then it becomes illegal again until next season. It’s normal. Second, we can’t all be vegetarians because it is unnatural. We have flat and canine teeth because we are meant to be omnivores. We can eat meat from animals that are not in danger of extinction (cows, chickens, etc.) It’s not like we’re serving McTigers with a side of french fries. Animals are a vital part of or world. I am deeply saddened to see such animals go extinct, especially seeing as how there was no point in it (some extinctions are probably necessary, like dinos) If I could find a way to bring some species back I would, if there was a way to stop senseless, ignorant killing of endangered species I would do it. The fact is however, making all hunting illegal and universal vegetarianism is not the answer at all.I’m writing this response in a fair and balanced way so that hopefully you understand. I don’t want to be one of those people saying “I don’t care about animals, stop crying while I go hunt some tigers on top of my pet elephant” that just doesn’t seem like an argument, sounds stupid.

    • Frank Demol says:

      i completly agree it is completly imature to think that just because something goes extinct we dont eat meat everything goes extinct for a reason

  24. Samreen says:

    Sometimes the animal thay we find the most common among us becomes enlisted in the extincts.Why is that?

  25. Fairy Dee says:

    Is it true about Quagga? I cannot belive it. Is it half zebra and half house? Why it’s extinct?

  26. Joe says:

    not cool this was stolen from another website

  27. akshay sardeshmukh says:

    i hate extinction because many animals have dead but the most common reason for animals extinction is by the interfearence of the man kind to be honest n also by changes in the climate.MY suggest is to not kill the species of animals indiscriminately we r destroying the beautiful world we live in by hunting then……………….

  28. MUTAI says:

    All extinct animals will be brought back to life at the second coming of our lord Jesus Christ ,they will be in heaven…..

  29. matt says:

    Attention anti-hunters, without hunting animals would deplete their resources making it hard for other animals that rely on the same food source to thrive. Thus making both populations of animals extinct with time. Maybe if you did some research you would see that if we don’t hunt populations will grow out of control and car accidents involving deer, etc. will tremendously increase! Insurance companies will have to pay out even more money and our economy.. well you can forget about it ever coming back, but yeah go ahead and blame hunting for your thick skull not understanding.

    From: Highschooler that acctually cares about animals. (being a vegetarian causes more harm to animal extinction than hunting)

  30. General Douglas MacArthur~ There is no security on this earth there is only opportunity.

  31. z says:

    The desire by Asians for ‘Natural Medicinal cures’ also is responsible for the decline in animals. They continue to poach animals for these ridiculous measures. Please stop this absurd medical perception.

  32. B STATS says:

    Why do you all think hunters kill them? Because the Government pays for it. It’s the Governments fault animals go extinct with mining, logging and all the other absurdities they commit for money and power. The World would be much better off without Government.

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