Who am I?
I had my own television show, sold in 128 countries (and I never said a word). I once boxed Woody Allen (and I probably won on points). I am generally loved throughout the world, yet when first discovered, I was described as a monstrous beast. I can comfortably travel at 40 kmph per hour over about two kilometres (I’d beat Usain Bolt). French writer Jules Renard described me as a giant flea (puce géante).
Hah! No idea eh?
There are even more interesting things I can tell you about myself. For example, I am literally born twice. I know that sounds a bit pretentious, as if I have a place among the miracles of your Jesus. If you are sceptical, here’s the proof from the BBC:
Now do you believe me? I know you humans find it pretty unbelievable. I am first born a tiny embryo. My powerful jumping legs are unformed, yet I climb up through my mother’s forest of fur into her pouch (that you all find so wonderful) and latch onto her teat. Nine months later I make a second entrance.
My mother is pretty amazing also. She’s developed this trick over the years called embryonic diapause which basically means she can stop her pregnancy if there is not enough food. When the rains and grass (mon plat préféré) return she restarts the development of the embryo. Kangaroo mums often have three young at varying stages of development: a joey (baby) at foot, a pouched young and a dormant embryo in the uterus. Next time you complain about motherhood just remember that the female kangaroo is almost permanently pregnant. She gets a day off when she gives birth.
When you Europeans first ‘discovered us’, we freaked you out completely. My favourite description is attributed to Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci who may have landed in Australia as early as 1499.
- amongst these big trees was found a monstrous beast, with the head of a fox, the hands of a man, the tail of a monkey, and that wonderful provision of nature, a bag in which to carry its young.
Luckily, Mr Vespucci never met my ancestor the Procoptodon (below) who died out about the time the first humans arrived. He could grow up to 2.5 metres tall and weigh about 250 kgs.
Our survival feat was accidental. You found us cute, bizarre and thankfully, relatively non-threatening. Sure, we got boomerangs thrown at us now and again and some members of my family have ended up as the plat du jour for you or your house animals. But luckily, you didn’t want to devour us on an industrial scale (although we are said to be quite tasty). Instead, you have developed a nationalistic-fluffy toy relationship with us. It defies logic. We chew grass with the cursed sheep and cattle and often wonder why it’s them and not us. There is not really a shortage of us, especially when the grass in green and lush and we are much more adapted to this dry continent.
Our carnivorous friends, the dingo (almost extinct) and the Tasmanian Tiger (extinct) haven’t fared so well. At first they thought you Europeans were Father Christmas in disguise. You stocked the land with tasty food. Every day was a feast of lamb and beef. But that didn’t last long and we don’t see our friends much any more. Definitely better to be a herbivore when you aggressive humans are in control.
In fact, thanks to you humans, there are very few remaining mammals of our size that are not farmed for food, domesticated or close to extinction.
You folk seem to revel in violence. Even that weedy New York funny man Woody Allen wanted to fight my great grandfather. I reckon great grand-dad beat him fair and square. But he’s had some much more challenging opponents.
Then there was the terrible 1936 film Orphan of the Wilderness – which we kangaroos renamed Sweet Revenge.
One day we will get to Geneva. And we are not interested in hopping around your water fountain, although your flower clock looks quite tasty. We have urgent work at World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). You have turned us into a marsupial cash cow. We now want our cut from your incessant exploitation; national symbols, B grade films, fluffy toys, coats of arms, the t-shirts, hats, jackets, key rings, tea towels, logos, television shows, delivery companies, airlines and utterly unforgivable and terrible terrible abuse of our bodies.
Our lawyers tell us: c’est dans la poche.
Hop, hop kangaroos of the world!