User Submitted Cryptid Sighting: Phantom Kangaroo
Name: Anonymous at request of witness
Number of witnesses: 1
Location of sighting: Riverside, IL
Date of sighting: Between 1975-1976
What you believe the creature was: Kangaroo
Message: “I saw a kangaroo on my walk to school in the morning. I was walking down the side walk when I came to a crossroad- like area, I looked to my left and saw it hopping in the same west direction that I was walking, about a block away from me. It was in an alley like road, in a neighborhood but not in front of any houses. I saw it hop down the street for a few seconds until it wasn’t in my view anymore. I reported it to my teacher, maybe my mother later on. I had randomly talked about it for years later with my sister. My experience was confirmed later in life as I found articles online about phantom kangaroos. The few people that I have told are skeptical of what I saw and blame it on a dog or escaped zoo animal. I will mention though that the town next to Riverside does have a zoo, the Brookfield Zoo. I never checked, but it may be worth researching if there ever was an escape. I always thought that if there was an escape, then many Riverside and Brookfield residents would have seen it also or at least heard about it.”
[Name withheld], thank you so much for contacting us and sharing your sighting, I absolutely love Phantom Kangaroo sightings for the sole reason that many of them go unexplained. While it’s true that many animals have joined the “phantom” club and have been witnessed outside of their normal habitats, the kangaroo always seems to be the most prevalent and intriguing. The main reason is that nobody outside of Australia expects to walk out their front door and witness a kangaroo hopping through their neighborhood. It’s almost magical to think about!
Now, Phantom Kangaroos have been spotted all over North America, and these sightings date back all the way to 1899 when the first “official” sighting took place. It happened in Richmond, Wisconsin during a storm and the woman who witnessed it said she saw it hopping through her neighbors' property. A report was made and it was discovered that while a circus was in town during the sighting, that specific circus did not own any kangaroos so there is no way they could have been responsible. The kangaroo seemed to have simply vanished as nobody else in the city ever saw it again and it was never captured.
This seems to be the biggest link between all Phantom Kangaroo sightings, nobody can ever figure out where these things come from. The first go to cause is that they somehow escaped from a nearby zoo or traveling circus, but when this scenario is investigated and it proves false, people are simply left scratching their heads. As this appears to be the case more often than not, some researchers believe that what people are seeing is not an escaped kangaroo, but rather an undocumented species of North American kangaroo. A marsupial with such a low population that sightings would be extremely rare and capture would be nearly impossible. But as with most cryptid theories, not everyone agrees with this possibility.
Now as for your sighting, I did a little bit of research to see if by chance a kangaroo has ever escaped from the nearby Brookfield Zoo, and I am actually surprised to say yeah, one has escaped before. But it didn’t make its break during the time of your sighting, no, this escape artist broke free all the way back in 1946. An article in the September 8th, 1946 edition of the Chicago Tribune states that a kangaroo which had been living at the zoo since 1936 randomly decided one day to jump over the 9ft fence surrounding its pen. While doing so, the marsupial tossed the 6-month-old joey within her pouch onto the lawn below and made a break for the front gates.
The quick animal stirred up over 20 employees in pursuit to capture her, but she proved way to fast and actually managed to get out of the zoo. Sadly though, the kangaroo was ill prepared for what awaited her on the other side of the gates. After being free for only an hour, the Hairy Houdini (see what I did there) was struck by a car. It is said she tragically died at the scene at 7th and 22nd in Riverside, IL.
Perhaps what you saw that day back in the ’70s as a child was the ghost of the 1946 Brookfield Escape, living out her phantom days hoping throughout Riverside without a care in the world. Or, what you actually saw was just another piece in the strange puzzle of the Phantom Kangaroos that call North America home. Either way, you are now part of an exclusive club comprised entirely of individuals lucky enough to have seen something truly unexplainable and bizarre. And let me tell you, this is the place to be.
So, welcome to the club [name withheld], we are happy to have you with us!
-The Pine Barrens Institute
Image Credit: Google