- Boy, 7, says kangaroo helped him survive a chilly night in the Australian bush
- He says he went missing from a family picnic after a kangaroo ate flowers he was picking
- He spent nearly 24 hours lost in in bush while a search party looked for him
- His father said the kangaroo was "a gift from God"
A seven-year-old boy who spent a winter's night lost in chilly conditions in the Australian bush says a friendly kangaroo is the reason he survived.
South Australian police said Simon Kruger went missing in the Deep Creek Conservation Park, south of Adelaide, after wandering away from a family picnic shortly after 1.15pm Saturday.
A search party of about 40, including two rescue helicopters, was mobilized to locate Simon, who was wearing just a fleece top and track pants and was not equipped for a night in the elements.
The search party continued their efforts through the night, operating using parachute flares, before a rescue helicopter spotted him about 500 meters from where he had gone missing nearly 24 hours earlier.
He was winched to safety shortly after noon Sunday, a police spokesman told CNN, having sustained minor injuries from his night in the wilderness.
But what has drawn the most attention about the episode is Simon's account of how he survived.
"Dad, I'm okay - I slept under a tree and there were kangaroos," were his first words to his father as he was reunited with his family, The Australian newspaper reported.
His father, Etienne, told Australia's 7 News said that his son had been picking flowers for his mother when a kangaroo approached him.
"A kangaroo came closer to him and ate the flowers from him, and the kangaroo fell asleep next to him," Etienne Kruger told the network. "I think God sent a kangaroo to keep him warm."
The boy's mother, Linda Kruger, added: "I think it was a miracle, when I smell his jacket, it's kangaroo -- bush and kangaroo."
The Krugers had been confident throughout the search that their son would be found safe, with the father telling The Australian that his son was strong and resourceful.
He told the Daily Telegraph newspaper Monday that his son was recovering well from his ordeal, and acting "as if nothing had happened."
"He's had a nice shower last night and a good sleep," he said. "He's certainly got something to tell at show and tell now."