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Memorable Red Kangaroo Encounter (1 Viewer)


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While going over some old photos of my visit to Australia I came across two that reminded me of a unique encounter that I feel is worth sharing. My flight arrived in Melbourne and from there my first destination was Mutawintji NP. Shortly after arriving there I went for a hike in the campground area and soon came upon a juvenile red kangaroo who was foraging. This roo didn’t flee but instead appeared well-habituated to the presence of humans and allowed me to observe it foraging for a half hour from fairly close by. This was really exciting for me as this was the first red kangaroo in the wild that I had seen at that point. Later that day I saw a note posted in the campground that explained why this roo was so habituated. She had been orphaned and was human-raised. When at the appropriate developmental stage she was released into the park to begin her life as a wild roo (the note asked people to please not feed her). I also learned that she had been given the name Lucy.

That night I went for a long hike in the bush to spotlight for mammals. About 20 minutes into my hike I heard a repeated thump-thump-thump from out in the darkness that was heading straight in my direction. I soon was able to make out a fairly large figure that was hopping toward me. As this figure approached closer, I could then see that it was Lucy! When she reached me she stopped and remained next to me. This was quite exciting! I could scarcely believe that, here in the bush under the stars, I had this red kangaroo calmly standing right next to me! After a few minutes I decided to continue my hike. Then, much to my surprise and delight, Lucy began following along with me! Remarkably, Lucy hiked along with me for nearly my entire hike! Something that particularly struck me (and that I got quite a kick out of) during the hike because it was so different from what I was used to seeing, was the manner in which Lucy followed along with me. Being from N. America (where the opossum is the only marsupial) I’m accustomed to the cursorial and typical walking locomotion that is utilized by the large mammals there (including us) in which the individual moves along in a smooth, continuous manner, moving forward by alternately stepping along. As is commonly known, macropods like Lucy utilize saltatorial (hopping) locomotion and aren’t capable of walking in the characteristic manner. Thus, rather than following along with me in a steady, continuous manner as a dog would do, she did so in a stop and go manner. My walking pace wasn’t fast enough for her to comfortably follow along steadily and continuously by hopping so she employed the following method. As I moved ahead of her she remained standing in place. When I had reached a short distance ahead of her she then began hopping along to catch up at which point she would continue on a short distance farther ahead of me, stop there and wait for me to catch up to her. She then would again remain standing in place, allow me to pass her and when I had progressed a short distance farther ahead she repeated the above sequence. And this is how we conducted our hike together.

It was certainly the most unique and memorable hike of my life and is one of my fondest memories of my visit to Australia. I realize how fortunate I was to have had such a magical experience—it’s a good bet that there aren’t many people who have ever had the experience of going on a hike with a red kangaroo (I’ve attached 2 photos of my hiking partner Lucy)! I’ll always remember Lucy and the night that I got to take a hike with a red kangaroo!


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