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This week’s post is a bit different to the others I’ve written, but that’s kind of the point of #WritingPromptWednesday, to break up the style and to challenge myself to new and different expressions of creativity. 

The prompt for this week is:

Visit a location of historical significance. Take in the surroundings, and write based on the inspiration that hits you in this place.

For me, the location was the Beaumaris Zoo, the old site of the Hobart Zoo in the 1920s and 30s, and most well-known for being the place where the last known Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) died in 1936. For this piece, I sat where – as best I could determine – Benjamin would have actually been on display at the zoo, and wrote the below. Hope you enjoy!

Josh Mitchell | Ghosts of Fur and Feather | Writing Prompt Wednesday

I pace.

I am surrounded by the sounds of other creatures that I cannot see. I can smell them, but I do not see them. The smells are unfamiliar, foreign to my nose; the sounds, so loud, so different to what I’m used to hearing, the loud roars, the growling. It frightened me at first, but now it is just another part of the routine. This man-made prison holds me, the dust and dirt beneath my feet is unnatural, so smooth and brushed, not how it is supposed to be.

This enclosure, it defines me. I am not a hunter or a predator. I am a prisoner. I am on display for their pleasure and enjoyment; I am watched, poked, pointed at, teased. They stare at me in wonder, curiosity, fear, and amusement. Sometimes they come close to the cage, they offer me food, and then they take it away. Others keep their distance. Some glare, others pity, they all stare.

And I pace. This tiny cube that they keep me in, the sun beats down on me when I wish I could sleep in the daytime, and at night, sometimes, they leave the door closed to my cave, and it’s cold with the breeze coming off the nearby river.

Benjamin Thylacine Tasmanian Tiger | Josh Mitchell | Midnight Quills

I am the last of my kind.

I don’t know how long it is that I’ve been here, but I feel old. When they locked me up, I was young, but that was so long ago that sometimes I struggle to remember what it was like outside this enclosure. I was young when I was free, and the world stretched as far as I could roam. There were no walls, no dusty ground, no wires keeping me from the wallabies and kangaroos that sometimes bound past in front of me.

Why are they not caged?

Sometimes I remember. Sometimes, in the shadow of the nearby tree, I lay my head down onto my paws, and I close my eyes. When I do, sometimes it all comes back to me, and I find myself remembering the scents of trees of animals, I remember the sounds of birds and beetles, I remember the feel of the natural ground beneath my feet as I ran through the wilderness.Ghosts of Fur and Feathers | Beaumaris Zoo | Josh Mitchell

I even had a family, although I don’t know what happened to them. They tried to help me, they did, but when the humans came, they hid. It was the right thing to do. It was the last time I saw them.


At least they aren’t here.

So I pace. Back and forth. Round and round. I travel as far as I can in this little cage they’ve put me in. I wait, although I don’t know what I wait for. For food and water, but something more, something freeing, something releasing. I wait for freedom, however that might come. I look back out past the wire and wood, I look at them, the humans, and I wonder why.


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