Phantom Kangaroo

Out-of-place, kangaroo-like MARSUPIAL seen in North America and Europe far outside its normal range.

Physical description: Height, 3-6 feet. Light tan to brown in color. Pointed ears. Pointed snout. Large hind legs and small forelegs. Long tail.

Behavior: Takes long jumps. Can move as fast as 20 miles an hour.

Distribution: United States, especially in the East and Midwest; southern Canada; England; Moselle Department, France; Varmland County, Sweden.

A partial list of North American places where Phantom kangaroos have been reported follows: California—San Francisco. Colorado—Golden. Delaware—Concord.

Illinois—Chicago, Dalton City, Du Quoin, Evanston, Lansing, Plano, Rock Island.

Indiana—Carmel, Rensselaer, Sheridan.

Iowa—Ottumwa, Wellman.

Kansas—Abilene, Wakefield.

Michigan—Detroit, East Lansing.

Minnesota—Anoka, Coon Rapids.

Nebraska—Grand Island, Endicott, Fairbury, Stanton.

New Brunswick, Canada—Milltown, Mi-ramichi.

New York—Webster.

North Carolina—Asheville.

Nova Scotia, Canada—Bridgetown.

Ohio—Grove City, Monroe.

Oklahoma—Owasso, Tulsa.

Ontario, Canada—Scarborough.


Utah—Cedar Fort.


Wisconsin—Brookfield, Eau Claire County, New Richmond, Pewaukee, Waukesha.

Significant sightings: During the New Richmond, Wisconsin, tornado of June 12, 1899, a kangaroo was seen running through a woman's backyard. Although a circus was in town, apparently no kangaroos were accompanying it.

On January 13 and 14, 1934, a giant kangaroo reportedly killed and ate some police dogs in Hamburg, Tennessee. Rev. W. J. Hancock saw it running and leaping across a field.

On July 28, 1958, Charles Wetzel saw a deerlike animal chasing some dogs by his cabin on the Platte River near Grand island, Nebraska. When he got within 10 yards of it, he realized it was a kangaroo. It bounded away into an alfalfa field, taking 10-foot leaps. Wetzel, who operated a brewery, was so taken with the experience that he named one of his beer brands "Wetzel Kangaroo Beer."

Chicago policemen Leonard Ciagi and Michael Byrne encountered a 5-foot kangaroo in the early morning of October 18, 1974, in a dark alley on the northwest side of the city. When Ciagi tried to handcuff it, the animal kicked him hard in the legs before it escaped by leaping over a fence.

After more than two weeks of mysterious kangaroo sightings in the Waukesha, Wisconsin, area, two men took a blurry Polaroid photograph of a kangaroo they saw in the bush near

Pewaukee on April 24, 1978. Loren Coleman says it resembles a Red-necked wallaby (Macro-pus rufogriseus) or Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor). Years later, an unconfirmed story surfaced that the two men were taxidermists who had taken a photo of a stuffed wallaby.

In early June 1981, Ray Ault was tending sheep near Cedar Fort, Utah, when he saw a big, yellowish kangaroo jump past his herd.

On August 4, 1999, Lois Eckhardt saw a kangaroo-like animal with a long tail on her cattle farm near Wellman, Iowa.

In October 2000, there were four sightings of a 6-foot kangaroo nibbling on leaves in Becken-ham Place Park, near Lewisham, London. Possible explanations:

(1) Zoo escapees, such as a Kinkajou (Potos flavus), Mara (Dolichotis spp.), Civet (Viverrinae), or an actual Kangaroo (Family Macropodidae), have been suggested as candidates and occasionally caught.

(2) The raccoonlike White-nosed coati (Nasua narica) often carries its long tail erect as it runs, though it is seen more often in bands rather than alone. Its range is limited to Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.

Sources: Anna P. Epley, A Modern Herculaneum: Story of the New Richmond Tornado (New Richmond, Wis.: Anna P. Epley, 1900); "'Giant Kangaroo' Kills Dogs and Terrorizes Tennessee Town," New York Times, January 17, 1934; Robert H. Gollmar, My Father Owned a Circus (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1965), p. 137; David Fideler and Loren Coleman, "Kangaroos from Nowhere," Fate 31 (April 1978): 68-74; Loren Coleman, "Kangaroos across America," Fortean Times, no. 37 (Spring 1982): 25-28; "Abounding Bounders," Fortean Times, no. 45 (Winter 1985): 22-23; "French Kangaroo Capers," Fortean Times, no. 48 (Spring 1987): 28-29; "The Canadian Caper," ISC Newsletter 6, no. 3 (Autumn 1987): 9; "Wallaby News," Fortean Times, no. 65 (October-November 1992): 18; "Caught on the Hop," Fortean Times, no. 74 (April-May 1994): 13; "There's a Flyin' Marsupial," Fortean Times, no. 103 (October 1997): 8; Elizabeth Judge, "Kangaroo

Keeps London Park on the Hop," Times (London), October 24, 2000; Elizabeth Judge, "Mystery Beast Just a Kangarooma," Times (London), October 28, 2000; "The Beast of Beckenham," Fortean Times, no. 142 (February 2001): 17; Loren Coleman, Mysterious America, rev. ed. (New York: Paraview, 2001), pp. 160-187.

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