A MOST UNUSUAL PET
Have you heard of love at first sight? Do you believe in it? Well, the first time I saw a kangaroo, I knew that I couldn’t love any animal as much as I loved that strange creature.
It happened in Canberra, which is the capital of Australia. I had to go there for a boring meeting; so one morning I played hooky and decided to go for a jog through the beautiful bush near the hotel. As I turned a corner round some gum trees, suddenly, right in front of me was a big kangaroo. Now I’m not exactly small, but this creature, with its gorgeous red fur, was bigger than me. We both stood and stared at one another. Then he blinked, nodded his head and bounded away. I know it was a ‘he’ because he didn’t have a pouch, but he had lovely eyes and I swear he smiled at me.
Kangaroos don’t run; they hop and believe me, they can hop really fast, at least 70km an hour. They can swim too and are amazing jumpers. They are herbivores, which means they mainly eat grass and like cows and sheep, they chew the cud.
Although they are very social creatures, which means they like living in groups called mobs; they do tend to fight one another at times, especially the big males. They fight by kicking and boxing, and it can be a bit scary watching them. It’s generally a good idea to keep well away when the big boys are feeling aggressive.
Now everyone knows that the babies live in their mother’s pouch. Well, they need to because they are born after only one-month gestation and they are only the size of a lima bean. The little Joey, as the babies are called, live in the pouch for about nine months, which, when you think about it, is quite a long time, as any human mother knows.
Of course I’m not the only one who loves kangaroos. They feature on the Australian coat of arms, on Australian coins and the champion rugby league team is proudly referred to as The Kangaroos. But here is the interesting part: I think my love for kangaroos is genetic. My grandson seems to love them just as much as I do, perhaps even more.
One day, Danny (that’s his name) was in the car with his dad (that’s my son) and his Mum, when they came upon a very sad sight. There by the side of the road was a female kangaroo that had been hit by a big truck. Although the beautiful creature had sadly died, there inside the pouch was a Joey. Danny took the tiny creature home, bottle fed him, made him a little pouch from a pillow case, talked to him, took him to school with him, and raised him for over a year until he was too big to live in the house. He was taken to a special place, which releases orphan kangaroos into a friendly mob. That was a bittersweet day.
I love telling my grandchildren stories, but the ones they seem to like best usually involve the Australian bush, animals and especially kangaroos.
About the Author
Anthony Rebuck is a retired Professor of Medicine who has published extensively in the field of asthma, emphysema and the dangers of smoking and pollution. He is the author of “Breathing Poison” and his latest publication and first children’s book is about a very special kangaroo, “Skippy’s Favourite Honey.” For more information, visit http://www.drrebuck.com/.