Monday, September 22, 2003

i want a kangaroo

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A kangaroo named Lulu was hailed a hero Monday for saving an unconscious Australian farmer by alerting the man's wife and leading her to where he lay trapped under a fallen tree branch.

Hero Kangaroo Saves Farmer

Hobby farmer Leonard Richards was checking for storm damage on his property at Tanjil South, 150 km (93 miles) east of Melbourne, Sunday morning when he was hit by a falling branch.

In a story reminiscent of the long-running Australian children's television series Skippy, in which a pet kangaroo rescued people in distress in the Australian bush, the kangaroo began barking until Richards' wife came to investigate.

She found her husband lying unconscious under a tree about 200 meters (650 feet) from the house, guarded by the gray kangaroo. Lulu was hand-reared by the Richards family, who rescued her from her mother's pouch and fed her on bottles after her mother was killed by a car about four years ago.

"Dad was totally out of it and Lulu was sitting by him in the bush making this really unusual yapping noise until Mum got there," Richards' 19-year-old son Luke told Reuters.

"It was so lucky. Dad could have been there for hours if it wasn't for her," he said.

Richards was taken to hospital with suspected head injuries but allowed home Sunday night.

Animal welfare group the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) called for Lulu to be nominated for its annual national bravery award.

"This award is given to animals who do something for humans of an exceptional nature and Lulu certainly has done that," national president Hugh Wirth told Reuters.