A man in Western Australia was attacked by a kangaroo, which then prevented authorities from reaching him to try and save his life, police said Tuesday.
The last reported fatal attack by a kangaroo in Australia was in 1936.
Police suspect the man may have been keeping the wild animal as a pet. A relative found the 77-year-old man with “serious injuries” on Sunday at his property in Redmond, a semirural area 250 miles southeast of Perth.
The man was attacked by the animal earlier in the day. When authorities arrived at the scene, police shot the kangaroo dead because it was preventing paramedics from attending to the man, police said in a statement.
“The kangaroo was posing an ongoing threat to emergency responders,” police said.
The man died at the scene. A coroner will determine the official cause of death.
It’s illegal to keep kangaroos as pets in most parts of Australia, and there are restrictions on keeping most native Australian animals as pets.
The region where the attack occurred is home to the western grey kangaroo, which can grow to weigh over 150 pounds and measure up to 7 feet from head to tail.
Male western grey kangaroos are very muscular, with muscle making up as much as 80% of their body weight. They are known to fight one another, but attacks on humans are uncommon and fatal attacks even rarer.
Kangaroo behavior expert Graeme Coulson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the animals can attack when they feel challenged or distressed or have trouble distinguishing between humans and other kangaroos.
“They’re large animals, they’ve got a lot of weapons, sharp nails and sharp teeth, and certainly if they’re cornered or in some sort of distress, that can be quite dangerous,” he said.
“The problem with kangaroos and people is we’re both upright animals, we stand on our two feet, and an upright stance like that is a challenge to the male kangaroo.”