Oz Politican Attacked By Kangaroo While Jogging

Jonathan Samuels, Australia Correspondent
Oz Politican Attacked By Kangaroo While Jogging

An Australian politician has been attacked by a kangaroo as he went for a morning jog.

Shane Rattenbury said he was out running in a suburb of the capital Canberra when he suddenly came up against an eastern grey kangaroo grazing on a front lawn.

"We both got a nasty fright, and of course when kangaroos are startled, they lash out," the 41-year-old said.

"As the kangaroo sought to escape, it landed on me, and its claws dug into my leg."

Mr Rattenbury tweeted his encounter along with a picture of his bloodied legs, saying: "Mugged by a kangaroo! And this was in the suburbs, had not even got to the nature park!"

The politician said the 1.4 metre (4ft 7ins) tall kangaroo knocked him to the pavement, the claws of its powerful hind legs drawing blood with two scratches to his left leg. His right leg was painfully bruised by the pavement.

Moments later, a passer-by noticed Mr Rattenbury was injured and drove him home.

His mother heard of her son's plight on a radio news bulletin and took him to a walk-in clinic, where a nurse cleaned his wounds and gave him a tetanus shot.

"The nurse who treated me had treated someone before who had been scratched by a kangaroo and ended up with a very bad infection," Mr Rattenbury said. "So she was quite keen to give it a good clean-out."

Mr Rattenbury limped into the Australian Capital Territory state parliament a few minutes before Thursday's session began and more than three hours after his painful brush with nature.

He was bemused that many people seemed more concerned about the kangaroo's welfare than his.

"I can assure people that the kangaroo is fine," he said. "It was last seen hopping off into the distance quite comfortably."

Kangaroos are among Australia's most loved native species. A kangaroo and an emu feature on the nation's coat of arms. But kangaroos are so numerous around Canberra that the ACT government maintains a controversial culling program to contain them.

Mr Rattenbury, who is a member of the environmentally focused Greens party, said he accepts the scientific evidence that kangaroo numbers have to be controlled around Canberra. Thursday's close encounter did not change that.

"Without a predator, kangaroos have increased their abundance and have a detrimental impact on the rest of the ecosystem," he said. "The Greens have not opposed that cull."

He added: "I really enjoy seeing kangaroos and we're very lucky in Canberra to have them as part of our neighbourhoods, but I usually prefer to keep them at a bit more of a distance than this."

Kangaroos rarely harm people, although in 2009 one jumped through a bedroom window of a Canberra home late at night and terrorised a family before a householder wrestled it out the front door.

Wildlife veterinarian Karen Vickers said more kangaroos were likely to venture deeper into Canberra suburbs in search of watered lawns to feed in the drier months ahead and that people should be wary.

"It sounds like they startled each other and Shane came off worse," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio. "They're really not out to get us."

The attack clearly did not cause Mr Rattenbury to lose his sense of humour. He added later on twitter: "I believe the roo is fine - escaped the scene quickly, but did fail to get my watch or wallet for those who were wondering ..."