Filmmakers On a Mission to Save Australia’s Kangaroos

Two kangaroos stand in grassland looking at the camera
Photo by Luke Shelley

Washington, DC—Ahead of World Kangaroo Day on Oct. 24, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has been collaborating with Australian filmmakers to help bring international attention to the relentless and cruel commercial killing of kangaroos.

Kangaroos Alive co-founder and filmmaker Mick McIntrye, who established World Kangaroo Day, is calling for an end to the brutal treatment and inhumane killing of kangaroos for consumption.

“The commercial killing of kangaroos is happening out of sight and out of mind when it comes to public awareness,’’ said McIntyre. “As a result, kangaroo killing has been allowed to occur without scrutiny or the kind of regulation that covers the commercial slaughter of all other animals for meat. There is no monitoring and regulation of commercial kangaroo shooters at the point of kill.”

Researching and producing their 2017 hit environmental documentary, “Kangaroos: A Love-Hate Story,” made such an impact on McIntyre and his wife, Kate, that they embarked on a mission to help prevent future kangaroo slaughter by creating World Kangaroo Day.

“We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” McIntyre said. “It quickly became clear to us that the government is turning a blind eye to the terrible mistreatment of kangaroos.”

Australia does not have a good track record when it comes to protecting its native species. The nation has the world’s highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world, with 54 Australian native animals becoming extinct and an additional 400 listed as threatened.

“Many Australians are appalled by Japan’s slaughter of whales and dolphins or Canada’s killing of fur seals, but what we are doing to our kangaroos is far worse,” McIntyre said. “Contrary to what many may think, kangaroo numbers are rapidly declining.”

A New South Wales (NSW) parliamentary inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods has heard testimony into the monitoring and regulation of commercial kangaroo shooters. The findings are expected to be released this week.

The Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia have relentlessly shot kangaroo populations for decades, with millions of animals killed for their skins and meat annually for commercial profit.

Kangaroo body parts are sold across Europe and the United States for pet food, sausages, and soccer cleats, yet there has been pushback overseas to stop the slaughter.

The Kangaroo Protection Act, introduced earlier this year in the US Congress, would ban the sale of kangaroo products. That would impact brands such as Nike, Puma and Adidas, which have been criticized for buying hundreds of thousands of kangaroo skins a year to use for their soccer cleats.

“I have seen how brutally these animals are killed. It’s hard to support such an industry,” said McIntyre, noting that English soccer star David Beckham stopped wearing Adidas shoes after watching an activist group’s video of a young joey and a mother being killed.

Beckham isn’t the only high-profile person supporting the cause. He is joined by Australia Zoo’s Terri and Robert Irwin, wildlife photographer Steve Parish, and legendary cricketer and animal advocate Jason “Dizzy” Gillespie. Gillespie said he was shocked by the testimony given to the parliamentary inquiry.

“How can we continue to allow kangaroos to be treated this way?” he said. “The kangaroo is a native species; it belongs to our land. How can we continue to allow the commercial killing of the kangaroo? The mistreatment of wildlife, which is on the coat of arms, is a national disgrace. It’s time to stand up and show the world Australians care about the protection of the kangaroo.”

Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison, Yuin nation elder, told the parliamentary inquiry that animals have a right to live without cruelty.

"The kangaroo preceded our indigenous culture more than 80,000 years ago and has both the land and living rights above all other introduced species—the right to live without cruelty and exploitation,” he said. “Defenseless animals are being blinded by bright lights and then bullets put into them. To me, that's not culling. That's slaughter.”

D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist at AWI, added: “Australia is world-renowned for the rigorous science, compassion, and ethical considerations that it brings to global debates about commercial whaling, but it refuses to apply that same level of scrutiny to the management of its kangaroo population.

Schubert continued: “NSW and the other Australian states that permit these cruel commercial slaughters should stop hiding behind claims of drought, competition with livestock, and kangaroo overpopulation, and agree to a legitimate and objective review of their management practices by an independent international body of experts.”

World Kangaroo Day is also supported by Animals Australia, World Animal Protection, and Australia Zoo, among other wildlife organizations.

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Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
[email protected], (202) 446-2128

About Animal Welfare Institute
The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.

About World Kangaroo Day
October 24, 2021 is World Kangaroo Day — a day to celebrate one of the world’s great icons and recognize the importance of kangaroos to Australia. Although kangaroos are an integral part of Australian culture, they are also victims of the largest terrestrial wildlife slaughter in the world. Kangaroos Alive, the nonprofit organization that established World Kangaroo Day, aims to rally support from around the world for a moratorium on the commercial killing of kangaroos.

In celebration of World Kangaroo Day, the World Kangaroo Day Photo Competition has attracted more than 800 entries. Professional and amateur photographers from across Australia have sent in photographs. Wildlife photographers Robert Irwin and Steve Parrish will judge the competition. The winner will be announced on Oct. 24.

About Kangaroos Alive
Kangaroos Alive is a global movement for the ethical treatment of kangaroos. It is the brainchild of Mick and Kate McIntyre, the producers of the award-winning film, “Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story.” The McIntyres joined forces with Diane Smith and Greg Keightley to create Kangaroos Alive, which provides funds for emergency response and ongoing care for kangaroos injured by commercial shooters, fires, and by road and fence accidents. World Kangaroo Day was launched to lobby for a moratorium on commercial kangaroo killing.