Thursday, 9 May 2013
THE LINCOLN KANGAROOS
A chat with a friend on Twitter The Angry Exile about his roo icon reminded me of the Lincoln Kangaroos owned by former local surgeon and amateur naturalist Geoffrey Morey who kept them as pets. The story I'd written about them was on another blog that I used to keep but have since deleted to concentrate on this one.
I guess it was Morey's interest in wildlife that made him jump at the chance of owning two Kangaroos as pets back in 1962. They were brought to London by a young Australian man who had been offered free transport by the ship's captain.
The young man thought it would be a gesture of admiration to present them to the Queen on his arrival in London but unfortunately for him, as he was living in a London hotel with the two animals much to the consternation of the management, Her Majesty declined the gift, and he had to get rid of them elsewhere sharpish.
When Morey heard about his plight he thought he could help solve the problem by taking the marsupials off the young man's hands.
The surgeon ripped out the back seats of his car and covered the floor with straw. He was just about to set off for London to pick the kangaroos up when he heard they'd been snapped up by an Australian born City of London dignitary.
Morey was so pissed off about it he went to the press. The story reached Australia where a nurse who used to work with him when he was a medical student in Adelaide read about it and put him in touch with two families in a rural area who had kangaroos they wanted rid of.
The kangaroos were shoved into crates on a ship bound for Liverpool where Morey picked them up. They were lifted into the adapted back of his car and apparently sat there happily with their heads sticking out of the window, probably in shock, as he drove them home to his big house and garden in a posh part of Lincoln in the middle of a perishing winter.
Named Nardo and Pinto, the two kangaroos settled in well and began to breed quite quickly. Morey was one of few people at that time to have witnessed a joey coming out of it's mother's pouch. In 10 years, the Morey family had up to five male and female kangaroos living in the garden, the house and a specially made kennel although three joeys died before they reached adulthood.
Nardoo tried to escape a few days after her arrival and broke her leg. Morey called for help from his medical friends at Lincoln County Hospital. The orthopedic surgeon and his registrar, general surgeons, physicians, anesthetists, radiologists and four Lincoln vets volunteered and the surgery was carried out at Morey's house.
The kangaroos did get out of Morey's high walled garden eventually while he was travelling in Africa. He heard news while in Nairobi of how the city police had to call out 20 officers in the early hours of the morning to join those on foot and in cars already on duty to round them up.
After three hours of chasing them up and down Lincoln High Street the police got the kangaroos home and warned Morey that more escapes would lead to them applying for his removal from the city.
Morey also found out how aggressive male kangaroos could be. One named after the original Pinto, who died after eating too much of a poisonous yew hedge in the garden, changed almost overnight after the birth of a male joey. He grabbed Morey in a tight hug unexpectedly one day that left him breathless. The doctor managed to break free after a fierce wrestling match.
As Pinto the Second became more aggressive and unreliable Morey packed him off to a zoo. When people found out that one of the famous kangaroos was leaving the pack offers flooded in which included a family that knew nothing about kangaroos but wanted one as a pet, and a circus owner who wanted one to box for entertainment.
The story of The Lincoln Kangaroos ends with Morey's book published in 1962. I've asked around locally and no one can remember him except one friend who recalls as a child looking over the wall from the top of an open top bus. Kids, apparently, tried to climb the walls for a glimpse of the animals.
Another friend tells me there used to be what she called "Washingborough Wallabies" in a field in a village near Lincoln but they've been gone a long time and whether they were kangaroos and not wallabies and related to Morey's originals is desperate speculation.
Maybe someone who knows more than I do about what happened to Geoffrey Morey and his kangaroos almost 60 years ago will stumble across this post as it floats around the internet and enlighten us all as to how the family's story ended.