A video went viral showing a man hitting a kangaroo in the face to save his dog. In the clip, Greig Tonkins, an employee at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, is seen helping his dog, strangled by the marsupial.
The kangaroo, shocked by the punch, is seen hopping away. The video uploaded to Facebook by user Steven Stubenrauch has crossed four million views. Social media flooded with memes on the incident.
Meanwhile, Tonkins' friend Matthew Amor explained the scenario to News.com.au: "We were driving along, the dogs are loose. They are trained to smell pig's blood, and picked up a scent."
"The dogs went past 20 kangaroos, which they are trained not to touch. Anyway, this big buck got a hold of my friend's dog. It just grabbed him," he added.
Adding on, the zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales, issued a statement supporting Tonkins. The note read:
"Best practice animal welfare and the protection of Australian wildlife are of the utmost importance to Taronga. Taronga strongly opposes the striking of animals and does not support the practice of using dogs to hunt, as this can result in negative welfare for both species. We support the guidelines outlined by the Department of Environment and Heritage in the event of confrontation with a kangaroo."
"Mr Tonkins is an experienced zookeeper and during his six years at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has always followed Taronga's best practice approach to animal care and welfare.
"We confirm that there is no suggestion of Mr Tonkins' employment at Taronga Western Plains Zoo ending as a result of this event. However, the highest standards of animal welfare and care are a core value of Taronga and one that we expect our staff to uphold in all their interactions with wildlife and we continue to work with Mr Tonkins on his conduct in regards to this incident."