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Australian politician injured in kangaroo attack

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 3:15 AM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
Eastern Grey Kangaroos are a common sight in the suburbs of Canberra, Australia's capital.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos are a common sight in the suburbs of Canberra, Australia's capital.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Shane Rattenbury was jogging in a suburb of Canberra when he ran into the animal
  • "I didn't see the kangaroo, and it didn't see me," he says
  • He had to seek medical attention for gashes to his left leg
  • Kangaroos are common in the area and don't usually threaten humans

(CNN) -- An Australian politician suffered gashes to one of his legs when a close encounter with a kangaroo during his morning jog turned violent.

Shane Rattenbury, a minister for the local government that manages the territory around the Australian capital, Canberra, said he bumped into the animal early Thursday as he was running along the side of a hedge in a suburban neighborhood.

"I didn't see the kangaroo, and it didn't see me," he said by phone on Friday. "It started hopping around, it was a bit panicked. I ducked for cover and ended up on the ground. The kangaroo jumped on me in its attempt to get away."

The claws on its powerful hind legs dug into the back of Rattenbury's left leg.

Shan Rattenbury\'s injured leg
Shan Rattenbury's injured leg

It then bounded away in the direction of a nearby nature reserve, leaving Rattenbury lying dazed in the street with deep cuts in his leg.

"Like most animals, when frightened, they'll lash out quite hard," he said.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos, the species he encountered, are common in the suburbs of Canberra, especially at this time of year when the dry weather brings them searching for grass and water on people's lawns.

"I see kangaroos here all the time when I'm running," Rattenbury said. "But I've never actually crashed into one before."

He said that after the skirmish, he hitched a ride home and then went and got his wounds cleaned and bandaged at a walk-in medical center. A nurse also gave him a tetanus shot.

His injuries didn't stop him from going on to attend a sitting of the local assembly, where some colleagues couldn't resist humoring him about his experience.

A run in with a 'roo has left the municipal services minister ruing his choice of route for a morning jog.
ABC anchor

"There have certainly been a lot of kangaroo jokes and kangaroo puns in the parliament," he said.

Australian media outlets also saw an opportunity for word play.

"A run in with a 'roo has left the municipal services minister ruing his choice of route for a morning jog," an anchor on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said as she introduced Rattenbury's story.

Although kangaroos don't usually pose a threat to humans, authorities in the Canberra area have undertaken annual culls to control the animals' numbers for environmental reasons. Rattenbury's political party, the Greens, doesn't oppose the policy.

"The cull has been very controversial," he said. "It's undertaken on the basis of science that indicates there is an overabundance of these kangaroos in the region."

The Greens "continue to monitor that science and look at whether this cull has delivered the desired impacts," he added.

On Rattenbury's Facebook page, one person sought to draw a link between the program and the minister's unfortunate experience.

"Perhaps the kangaroos are trying to tell you something about the culling program," wrote a user named Rick Collins.

It is estimated that there are around 50 million kangaroos in Australia, according to the national government.

Rattenbury says his alarming experience hasn't deterred him from continuing to run in the same neighborhood as he trains for triathlons in the coming months.

"I hope to be back out there tomorrow," he said.

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