Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 13th, 2006
Yes, Austrian, not Australian, kangaroos are in the news. According to an Associated Press report, one was seen leaping down a Tyrol province highway during October 2006. But on October 11, law enforcement officials explained to the public this was an alleged September escapee from an enclosure in the village of Volders.
At least, that is the police statement. The uncaught kangaroo is still at large.
Reportedly, in March, 2006, a kangaroo was encountered in southern Austria. A local veterinarian using a stun gun captured it. Then a Tyrol wild animal breeder came forth, saying it was his. Humm.
These mystery, supposedly escapee, kangaroo sightings, as for example in Minnesota last year, are more frequent than most people think.
Sometimes real kangaroos are taken. A fifty pound kangaroo (actually a dama wallaby, Macropus eugenii, an extremely common captive exotic pet) was killed in rural Mauston, Wisconsin, on December 7, 2005, by a truck driven by Ralph Hamm (seen at the top of this post). It had jumped out in front of Hamm’s truck in his driveway, but he could not stop.
The Wisconsin State Journal noted that “kangaroos hopping around southern Wisconsin are becoming an annual occurrence. During last winter [2004-2005], a 130-pound kangaroo eluded Iowa County authorities for two days until he was finally corralled in a horsebarn on a farm south of Dodgeville.”
The locals and the paper soberly concluded: “Where the wayward marsupials are coming from is a mystery. “
Despite a lack of local sightings, Hamm said he backtracked and found that the kangaroo had apparently been living under a culvert on his property. The culvert area had a lot of prints and a line where the kangaroo dragged his tail.
Hamm is thinking about making a taxidermy mount of his kangaroo, while the Dodgeville kangaroo, nicknamed “Roo,” is a live attraction at the Vilas Zoo in Madison.
Reports of cryptid kangaroos in Wisconsin, especially during the classic flap of 1978, are chronicled, in depth, in Mysterious America.
As far as the “name game” (see Mysterious America, Chapter 22, “The Name Game,”) goes, Hamm is a name I’ve run across before. One specific strange sighting took place on September 19, 1970, near Pana, Illinois, to firefighter A. V. Hamm, who told me a gray tannish pumalike animal appeared to fall out of the sky or leap gracefully over a bunch of bushes near the path of his car.
Photo credit (top): Ralph Hamm.