MELBOURNE, Australia — A 77-year-old Australian man was killed this weekend by a kangaroo in what is believed to be the country’s first fatal kangaroo attack in over 80 years.
The police believe that the man, who was identified by Australia’s national broadcaster as Peter Eades, was keeping the wild kangaroo as a pet.
He was found with serious injuries by a family member on his property in rural Western Australia on Sunday afternoon. Paramedics and the police were called to the scene but could not immediately get to the man because the kangaroo was in the way, the police said in a statement. Officers fatally shot the kangaroo, and the man was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Western Australia is home to the western gray kangaroo, which can grow more than seven feet from head to tail and weigh nearly 120 pounds.
In Australia, permits are required to keep wild animals as pets. The Western Australia police did not respond to questions about whether the man had a permit to keep the kangaroo.
Tanya Irwin, a senior veterinary nurse and wildlife caregiver at Native Animal Rescue in Western Australia, said that the authorities rarely approved permits to keep kangaroos as pets.
“They don’t cope well in human situations, in care,” she said.
Fatal kangaroo attacks are extremely uncommon because a kangaroo’s first instinct is to flee, she said. The animals will not attack unless they feel cornered, she added.
“Typically, when you come across them in the wild, they’ll let you know that they’re there and keep an eye on you, but they don’t come after you,” she said.
The last reported fatal kangaroo encounter in Australia occurred in 1936 in the state of New South Wales, when William Cruickshank, 38, succumbed to injuries he had sustained months earlier when he tried to rescue his two pet dogs from a large kangaroo.
“His jaw was broken and he received extensive head injuries which confined him to hospital until his death,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported at the time.
While fatalities from kangaroo assaults are rare, encounters resulting in injuries are not. In July, a kangaroo in Queensland left a 67-year-old woman with cuts and a broken leg. In April, another woman, also in Queensland, was kicked to the ground and stomped on while she was playing golf. In March, a 3-year-old girl suffered serious cuts to her face and back from an encounter with a kangaroo in New South Wales.
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