PERTH, Australia (AP) — A man who may have kept a wild kangaroo as a pet has been killed by the animal in southwestern 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 on Sunday in rural Redmond, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Western Australia’s state capital, Perth.
He was believed to have been attacked earlier that day by the kangaroo, which was shot dead by police because it was preventing paramedics from reaching the injured man, police said.
“The kangaroo posed a continuing threat to emergency services,” the statement said.
The man died on the spot. Police are preparing a report for a medical examiner who will record an official cause of death.
Police believe the victim kept the wild kangaroo as a pet.
There are legal restrictions on keeping native Australian wildlife as pets, but the police press office said on Tuesday they had no information to release about 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.
“It looks like it was an adult male and they get quite aggressive and 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 in captivity and unfortunately … they are not a cute animal, they are a wild animal,” Irwin added.
Irwin said his rescue center always rehabilitates native animals with the goal of returning them to the wild, particularly kangaroos.
“You need a special permit to be able to do that. I don’t think they really give it very often, unless it’s a wildlife center with trained people who know what they’re doing,” he said.
Western gray kangaroos are common in southwestern Australia. They can weigh up to 54 kilograms (119 pounds) and stand 1.3 meters (4 feet 3 inches) tall.
Males can be aggressive and fight with people using the same techniques they use with each other. They use their short upper limbs to grab their opponent, use their muscular tails to support their body weight, and then attack with their powerful clawed hind legs.
In 1936, 38-year-old William Cruickshank died in a hospital in Hillston, in the state of New South Wales, on Australia’s east coast, months after being attacked by a kangaroo.
Cruickshank sustained serious head injuries, including a broken jaw, while trying to rescue his two dogs from a large kangaroo. Sydney’s morning herald the newspaper reported at the time.