Man killed by kangaroo in Australia in first fatal attack in 86 years

Gray kangaroo
A gray kangaroo hops along a hillside in a conservation area southwest of Sydney, Australia.
(Rob Griffith / Associated Press)

A man who may have been keeping a wild kangaroo as a pet was killed by the animal in southwest Australia, police said Tuesday. It was reportedly the first fatal attack by a kangaroo in Australia since 1936.

A relative found the 77-year-old man with “serious injuries” on his property Sunday in semi-rural Redmond, 250 miles southeast of the Western Australia state capital, Perth.

It was believed he had been attacked earlier in the day by the kangaroo, which police shot dead because it was preventing paramedics from reaching the injured man, police said.


“The kangaroo was posing an ongoing threat to emergency responders,” the statement said.

The man died at the scene. Police are preparing a report for a coroner who will record an official cause of death.

Police believe the victim had been keeping the wild kangaroo as a pet.

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There are legal restrictions on keeping native fauna as pets, but the police said Tuesday that they had no information to make public regarding whether the victim had a permit.

Tanya Irwin, who cares for macropods at the Native Animal Rescue service in Perth, said authorities rarely issue permits to keep kangaroos in Western Australia.

“This looks like it was an adult male, and they become quite aggressive and they don’t do well in captivity,” Irwin said.


“We don’t know what the situation was — if he was in pain or why he was being kept in captivity. ... They’re not a cute animal; they’re a wild animal,” Irwin added.

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Western gray kangaroos are common in Australia’s southwest. They can weigh up to 120 pounds and stand about 4 feet 3 inches tall.

The males can be aggressive and fight people with the same techniques as they use with each other. They use their short upper limbs to grapple with their opponent, use their muscular tails to take their body weight, then lash out with both their powerful clawed hind legs.

In 1936, William Cruickshank, 38, died in a hospital in Hillston in New South Wales state on Australia’s east coast months after he’d been attacked by a kangaroo.

Cruickshank suffered extensive head injuries, including a broken jaw, as he attempted to rescue his two dogs from a large kangaroo, the Sydney Morning Herald reported at the time.