A female kangaroo escaped from the Oshawa zoo on Friday morning. She spent the weekend on the lamb and was recaptured by the Durham police on Monday morning. (Apparently after punching one of the police officers in the face.) In a quote from the initial CBC news story, Cameron Preyde, the head zookeeper for the Oshawa Zoo and Fun Farm, was quick to point out, “It is not our kangaroo,”. The kangaroos were en route to a zoo in Quebec and Oshawa was meant to be a pit stop when the female kangaroo escaped. “As the animal handlers last night were trying to unload the animal, it jumped over their heads and escaped,” he said. “And now I have the illustrious job of going out and trying to wrangle this thing in the middle of farm fields in the middle of a snowstorm.”
These quotes really annoyed me. First of all, the lack ownership of the kangaroo and the situation. It’s not your kangaroo, but your zoo must have agreed to take ownership of the animal’s care, feeding and welfare for the night, so it kind of is your kangaroo. Unless kangaroos just make random surprise pit stops when they are on roadies to Quebec when they need a break. What annoyed me the most is that this zoo keeper called the kangaroo a “thing”. She is not a thing, she is a sentient, terrified animal who is supposed to be in the Australian outback and now she is in Oshawa in the middle of winter and, at risk of freezing to death, getting hit by a car or being attacked by coyotes, or all three. The insensitivity floored me. I don’t understand how someone who works with animals every day can refer to them as a “thing” and I find this deeply concerning.
And speaking of words, the use of the word “illustrious” annoyed me because it is a big word that the speaker used to look smart, but had the opposite effect. The Miriam-Webster definition of illustrious: “notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions: eminent.” So yeah, no, try again. Here’s an idea, just show some compassion. It is not about you. Sorry you have to go look for the kangaroo that you all lost due to your own incompetence, but you do because it’s your job and also even if it’s not your job, it is a wild animal that is suffering, so yes, please try to find her, if it’s not too much trouble.
I also have questions. I am not a zoo veterinarian, but I am a veterinarian and I have some experience working with wild animals. How did the animal handlers get surprised by the fact that kangaroos jump? That seems like kangaroo handling 101. I think my 6-year-old niece knows this fun fact about kangaroos. Also, why the pitstop? How well was this trip planned and executed? Why was it happening during a snowstorm? Were the kangaroos sedated to decrease the whole terrified, jumping over people and getting loose in Oshawa thing? Was there a veterinarian involved in smooth transport of the kangaroos? Why was the truck not taken to a secure area before unloading the wild animals that can jump high? Did they think that they would stick around like dogs?
Preyde redeemed himself slight with this quote, “Everybody is working with us right now to try and get this animal back into a nice, warm, safe place because that’s really what matters most at this point in time,” (yes, why didn’t you just say that?) But then disappointed me by opening his mouth again, “I’m just doing everything I can” (good) “to get this thing back” (she’s not a thing) “It’s a pretty innocent creature.” (completely innocent, actually) “Sometimes they can be jerks,” (No they can’t because they are not humans. They can only be kangaroos) “but yeah, I’m just trying to get this thing back,” (again with the thing!)
If zoos can’t be trusted to transport animals safely, then they shouldn’t exist. They failed this kangaroo with incompetence and a lack of empathy and compassion. A kangaroo is not a thing.