Kangaroo puncher keeps zoo job despite animal rights group complaints


Paul Henry

An Australian man caught on camera punching a kangaroo in the face has been criticised for his actions, after it was revealed he is a zookeeper.

Greig ‘Goo’ Tonkins became an internet star after the clip came to light, which shows him rescuing his dog Max from a kangaroo’s headlock by firing a brutal right hook at its snout.

The footage was filmed in Euabalong, New South Wales back in June during a boar-hunting trip for a friend with terminal cancer who has since died.

After the video was shared around the world, animal rights groups condemned Mr Tonkins’ actions.

They’re calling for him to lose his job as an elephant keeper at Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told Australian Regional Media that Mr Tonkins should not be “made out to be a national hero”, but rather prosecuted.

“Punching a kangaroo in the face is neither brave nor funny,” the group said.

Mr Tonkins also drew derision from the Humane Society International Australia, who said their efforts to rescue circus elephants in India is undermined if “we can’t even look after our own species here”.

“It is very disturbing of someone of this character has a position [at Western Plains Zoo]. They would have no trouble filling it with someone who respects animals,” they said.

The zoo disagrees, however, and says Mr Tonkins’ job is safe.

“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,” said a zoo spokesperson.

“We continue to work with Mr Tonkins on his conduct in regards to this incident.”

Matthew Amor, a friend of Mr Tonkins’ who also attended the hunting trip, said their deceased mate “would be looking down from up there [heaven] and laughing” at the media furore.

“It was funny because [Mr Tonkins] is the most placid bloke. We laughed at him for chucking such a s**t punch,” Mr Amor told news.com.au.



8 thoughts on “Kangaroo puncher keeps zoo job despite animal rights group complaints

  1. Throwback to colonial days and kangaroo boxing. Nothing to be proud of. Think of grizzy bear wrestling by American colonials (of course, they had to fix the odds to their favor by defanging and declawing the bear). How cringeworthy. The native people of both our countries must have been totally shocked by the behavior they must have witnessed, and all the pious religion too. Just have to prove how superior they are as always. Of course, it was all captured on video too – staged. I think this is worrisome. I don’t think this “man” can be trusted around animals. Six years doesn’t sound like that long to me.


  2. When I saw the video on national news, the reporters were laughing at the whole thing. Has anyone else ever noticed that that is often the response to animal-related news, even when it is completely uncalled for. I remember another story about a transport truck accident in which some of the unfortunate pigs were killed. As people were trying to round up the ones who were scared, confused, and running loose, the reporters were making jokes. I just don’t see how anyone can find any part of such an accident funny, especially if they would stop and think what would happen to the pigs after they were caught.

    • Oh yes! It was the same way with the new program I was watching. It bothers me that the talking heads never take animal welfare seriously unless it’s a cute human interest story.

  3. I understand that while kangaroos can and will kill dogs if they feel threatened by them given that they see them as no different from their natural predators (dingoes), there was no need for the man to hit the kangaroo after spooking him off of the dog. Out pig hunting using a dog… explains a lot about this person’s nature.

  4. Except pigs are feral in Australia and do quite a bit of damage as they do wherever they become feral. At least he’s not slaughtering kangaroos and dingoes which appears to be quite the national
    past time over there. If one has to hunt, feral pig hunting would be the least offensive choice. I’m amazed his dog just stood there and honestly I don’t think the roo was really hurt.
    Maybe a bit of over reaction on this story……

    • This man brought his dog into a dangerous situation and before that let him run loose in the bush (some Australian snakes rank in the top 10 most poisonous in the world) with intent to use the dog to maul another animal. Feral or not, that is depraved.

    • “At least he’s not slaughtering kangaroos and dingoes which appears to be quite the national past time over there.”

      This has always been my perception; it makes me cringe to think of foreign invaders decimating wildlife for fun and dominance, as well as the native human population, which was/is done here in America too. Somebody prove me wrong!

      • Don’t think anyone can prove you wrong. We cause problems by introducing foreign species to begin with and then punish them with death for breeding and being successful. Look at the rabbits in Australia.

        I guess we’re the foreign pests who introduced ourselves into America.

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