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NATURE: Kangaroo Mob

Black Spot, leader of a mob of street-smart kangaroos moving into Australia’s capital city.
Courtesy of Luke Cameroon
Black Spot, leader of a mob of street-smart kangaroos moving into Australia’s capital city.

Airs Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

In the past 50 years, the eastern gray kangaroo population around Canberra, Australia’s capital city, has exploded from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Forced from the surrounding drought-stricken hills, hungry kangaroos have done their best to adapt to city life, dining on city parks and suburban lawns—though they do pay a price for their meals.

Each year, thousands of kangaroos lose their lives in collisions with cars on busy roads, causing injuries and property damage of more than a million dollars in the process. Overgrazing by large numbers of kangaroos has also created stress on the environment.

It’s all led to a government policy of culling, and an emotional public dispute between those who support reducing kangaroo numbers, and those who are appalled by the prospect of killing this beloved Australian icon.


The government’s culling “solution” has led some Canberra residents to seek out new, innovative, and kangaroo-friendly ways to regulate the surging population. Can they be relocated, or can their numbers be controlled through forced contraception?

Over the course of one drought-stricken year, follow mob leader, Black Spot, and kangaroo mother, Madge, with her two young joeys — mischievous Sonny and tiny pouch-bound Alice. Following the stories of these urban kangaroos, "Kangaroo Mob" reveals how these metropolitan marsupials manage to survive the city, and documents the ongoing debate on how best to manage them.

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Meet the mob of street-smart kangaroos moving into Australia's capital city and the ecologists who follow their every move.