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Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 73 [28]

An Extraordinary top Ten



Photo © The Kangaroo Sanctuary (Wikimedia Commons)

No, that is not a statue (though they are planning one). That is Roger. I’m coming to him.

Trawling through an umpteenth website the other day, looking for a small piece of information, I caught, or thought I did, at the corner of my eye, a link to ‘The ten Most Famous Kangaroos’, or it might have been ‘The Ten Most Amazing Kangaroos’, or ‘The Ten Greatest Kangaroos’. I dismissed it – too busy hunting for my small piece of information – but it later came back to mind, and I found myself wondering what kangaroos might have found themselves on such a list. Skippy, most probably, but who else? Yet of course – with one curious exception – when I Google-searched for any such list all I got were lists of rugby players.

The one exception was Roger, a large red kangaroo buck who’s grown up on the famous Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, and has, apparently, found himself on someone’s list of ‘The Ten Most Famous Animals in the World’.

The ‘Top Ten’ idea, in any case, seems to have stuck around. Put it down to my obsession, as a ten- and eleven-year old, transistor radio in hand, with listening to the Top Ten on 2CA on Saturday afternoons (the compere a very young Steve Liebmann). The first songs of the Beatles, the first of the Animals, the first of the Rolling Stones. Normally I’d dismiss such lists, nowadays, as idle distractions – the ten greatest cricket catches of all time, the ten funniest TV bloopers, the ten worst American presidents – for those moments when the exhausted mind has gone blank, unable to find the doco it wants on YouTube. Why should I think of any such thing, with kangaroos?

But then, that night, lying in the dark, it seemed there were all these kangaroos around me, staring, asking for something. Suddenly the notion seemed something one could turn inside-out somehow, complicate, crowd with the forgotten. One could put aside the ‘Famous’, the ‘Amazing’ (they are all amazing), the ‘Greatest’, and substitute something else, but what would that be? Certainly any such list would be subjective – no escaping that – and if I ‘named’ individual kangaroos, it would, in most of the cases, only be as representatives of whole groups of kangaroos. There would be the mascots, say; there would be the emigrants; there would be … well, you’ll see, because I think I’ve talked myself into doing it, if only as a kind of reprise, as I approach the end of these 100 Days, for the remarkable creatures I’ve ‘met’ and stories I’ve come across. It hardly matters, after all, whether I do or don’t get my kangaroos and categories right: readers might find themselves making lists of their own, and that can’t be bad at all.

As for the order (10, 9, 8, 7, etc.), let that be a kind of game, luck of the draw, a rhetorical device: they are all number one.

I start – ‘number 10’! – with the Giants, the Great Bucks: Roger, 89 kilograms and standing over two metres tall, with such impressive biceps he’s been called the Arnold Schwarzenegger of kangaroos (or the Sylvester Stallone, or…). Bucks often have impressive biceps, ‘boss’ bucks especially, built up through all that childhood and youthful ritual and actual sparring. It’s thought – and seems quite logical – that biceps-size is a part of their sexual attraction, if only as an indicator of their likely ability to protect their mob. Roger, apparently, is very protective of his. But if I start with Roger, how can I not go on to – send the reader back to revisit, in the post on the Red Kangaroo (day 45 [56]) – the 2.7 metre Giant of Mt Isa, in that extraordinary photo of 1932? Or Ned (this is really about Ned) from the post of day 27 (74), with his load of buckshot, who may have set some records of his own?

Here’s a photograph of Ned you’ve not yet seen – with his beloved Stella, having his paws checked:

Photo: Stella Reid

Watch out for Number 9, in three days’ time.

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