Cryptid Profile: Phantom Kangaroos
A good majority of people know what out of place animals are, for those who don’t, these are animals that are discovered in a location where they are not supposed to be. Often times they are far from their normal place of residence or country/continent. The major player in this game of ‘animal in the wrong place’ is the ABC, or Alien Big Cat. These are gigantic felines (panthers, tigers, lions, etc.) that are spotted roaming around locations that a large cat should never be, such as a city or neighborhood.
Other notable animals that have turned up in odd places over time include alligators, camels, gorillas, dolphins, swordfish, and manatees.
But one odd animal that has been spotted quite regularly throughout the years is the kangaroo. Yes you read that right, the kangaroo. For those of you that don’t know (and I hope it’s not many), kangaroos are only found within Australia, Tasmania, and the surrounding islands, that’s it. When outside of their normal habitat, they can be found in zoos all across the word, doing what they would normally do in the wild, but in front of people standing on the other side of a fence. So it seems pretty odd that countless people would have encounters with these animals in the Midwest of the United States. Often times it is a single roo seen hanging out in fields, hopping through people’s backyards, or jumping across roads. But why?
(Side Note: You may be asking yourself right now, “Why is a scientifically recognized animal being listed as a cryptid just because it is not where it is supposed to be? We still know what it is, we have seen them before”. Well to answer your question, these animals are considered cryptids because they are not where they are supposed to be, and because of that they fall within the Eberhart Classification Rules of Cryptozoology, specifically classification number 1: “Distribution anomalies [known animals reported outside their normal range, e.g. the anomalous big cats of the U.K.]”)
Most of the explanations given as to why these kangaroos are so far away from their home is because they have escaped from the zoo that houses them. Investigators check with the zoo and ask if they have had a recent marsupial make a break for it, almost always the answer is no (fun fact: the only documented escape of a kangaroo from a zoo took place in 1968). What now? Next they check with local citizens that have special permits to own the animals if perhaps they have had any kangaroo escape artists disappear, again the answer is no. Investigators are left stumped and the animal is now (in all regards) a phantom. They don’t know where it came from and they don’t know where it went. It is nothing but a mystery.
Some Cryptozoologists believe that the phantom animal being seen by many is not actually a true kangaroo at all, but a new species of marsupial native to North America (and other continents) that only resembles a kangaroo in appearance. Could this be true? Possibly, but it is not something that can be made certain until (like always) a specimen is either caught or a body is discovered that allows for scientific study.
Notable sightings of Phantom Kangaroos within the United States:
Richmond, Wisconsin 1899 – During a large storm, a woman reported that she witnessed a large kangaroo leaping around her backyard. It eventually made its way out of the area and was not seen again. A circus was in the area at the time but had no kangaroos in its possession.
Mays Landing, New Jersey 1900 - A family reports strange sounds emanating from their barn. When investigated, it was reported that the creature responsible looked nearly identical to a kangaroo. It was said to be the size of small calf and appeared to weigh roughly 150lbs. After the animal escaped the barn, the family reported seeing its tracks, 8-10ft apart, coming and going from a swamp near the edge of their property.
Pennsburg, Pennsylvania 1907 - Newspapers in the area report a kangaroo being spotted near Pleasant Run. Many witnesses report seeing a creature that moves extremely fast and appears to bounce or hop. Those who saw it at a moment of stillness report it as being gray in color with a head resembling a sheep. Its feet are large as well as its tail. When approached by people, the creature takes off at great speed. When dogs were released to corner it, it is said the dogs were attacked not with teeth or claws, but with strong kicks to the body.
South Pittsburg, Tennessee 1934 – a kangaroo (or kangaroo like beast) was seen over the course of five days. It was seen killing other animals with its bare hands and leaping through fields. A search party tracked its tracks to a mountainside cave but the creature disappeared.
Grove City, Ohio 1949 - A Greyhound bus driver witnesses a strange creature hop across the highway. The driver reported the creature as being around five and a half feet tall and covered in short brown hair. It had a long pointed head and was able to easily leap over a tall barbed-wire fence on the other side of the highway before disappearing.
Coon Rapids, Minnesota 1957-1967 - Multiple residents of the Minneapolis suburb report seeing kangaroos, sometimes two at a time, coming and going from a wooded area near Anoka County Fairgrounds. The sporadic sightings happened for over a decade before coming to an end.
Chicago, Illinois 1974 – Two police officers investigated a report of a 5ft kangaroo standing on a residents porch. A search of the area led the officers to an alley where the animal was cornered, but it escaped capture and was left to wander throughout Illinois.
Midwest, USA 1974 – A kangaroo (believed to be the one that escaped capture in Chicago) was spotted within different towns throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Most often seen hoping at fast speeds through fields before disappearing within wooded areas.
Decatur, Illinois 1975 – A woman driving along route 128 near Dalton City reported an animal that approached the side of the road, stared at her vehicle, and then turned around and hopped away on two legs into a cornfield.
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin 1978 – Two men were able to snap a photo of a kangaroo standing alongside the highway as they drove by. This sighting is widely believed to be a hoax and the animal in question was nothing but a stuffed wallaby placed on the side of the road.
Wellman, Iowa 1999 - A woman discovered a kangaroo like animal jumping among her cows while out in her field. The commotion of the cows apparently scared the creature off and it made its way out of the area.
Dodgeville, Wisconsin 2005 – Multiple sightings of a large kangaroo in the area prompted a search party to investigate. The group tracked the animal to a barn where it was captured in a crate and sent to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. An investigation throughout the state as well as surrounding areas resulted in no explanation as to where the animal came from and how it got there. The kangaroo lived out its remaining days at the zoo until its death in 2008. A statue of the animal now resides in the children’s play area of the zoo.
Oklahoma 2013 – A pair of hunters recorded a video of a kangaroo hoping through a field. Many believe that it was a pet kangaroo that went missing a year prior.
North Salem, New York 2013 – A driver on their way to work spotted a kangaroo on video standing near the edge of the road. During this time, a family reported that their pet wallaby had recently escaped and that this may possibly be the same creature.
Grand Chute, Wisconsin 2019 - Police received a call around 7am stating that a kangaroo had been spotted on a walking bridge near Fox Cities Stadium and I-41. Upon investigation, police found no trace of the animal. Nearby Greenville zoo reported that all their kangaroos were safe and accounted for.
- The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Google