Right to bear kangaroos


A friend and a reader from the United States, Chuck, has sent me this informative chart and asked about the situation in Australia:


For starters, God bless the great states of South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin, where freedom reigns and government will not infringe on your inalienable right to own a bouncing marsupial. Not that I have exactly turned my attention to this issue before, but I had no idea that anyone would actually want to own a kangaroo, which is a wild animal, as a pet in the first place, and in the United States, where clearly they are not native – and that the issue is so burning that every state in the Union has made a legal determination on this topic.

The situation in the actual home of kangaroos is quite complicated. As a general principle, keeping wild native fauna as pets is frowned upon, legally and/or practically, though I note that last year a government official has suggested it would be a patriotic way to preserve endangered species rather than splurging on more cats and dogs. Only a couple of jurisdictions (including Victoria) allow for kangaroo pets, but only subject to obtaining a licence and satisfying various conditions, such as appropriate fencing – kangaroos, after all, love to roam free through the countryside – and obtaining the animals from an accredited source (i.e. not capturing one yourself in the wild). In the rest of Australia, including my state of Queensland, forget it. Animal rights groups are largely against what they see as imprisoning wild animals, and there is a good argument in that; kangaroos in addition to their love of open spaces can be quite destructive and violent (kind of like other Australians in the popular international imagination).  I’m told that even in the more liberal Victoria, individuals rarely receive permits, which are largely restricted to zoos and animal sanctuaries.

If you visit Brisbane, I’ll take you to one of the local animal parks where you can actually feed and if you’re lucky pet kangaroos and wallabies. But if you still want to own one after that, well, there’s always South Carolina.

(All photos copyright Arthur Chrenkoff)