A woman whose video of her hugging a kangaroo went viral amid the bushfire crisis has been forced to shut down social media speculation surrounding the heartwarming clip.
Laura Brown, the US-based Australian editor of InStyle Magazine, recently visited The Kangaroo Sanctuary in the Northern Territory — a place that hasn’t been affected with the current wildfires — where she shared a tender moment with a roo.
After, she shared footage, along with an important message about climate change to Instagram referring to the increasingly alarming situation sweeping NSW, SA and Victoria, the clip went viral.
However, things spiralled out of control when many sharing it assumed Brown had saved the animal and it was hugging her in an act of gratitude.
“Kangaroo can’t stop hugging the volunteer who saved her life,” read a caption of one Instagram post.
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In a bid to set the record straight, Brown told her 334,000 followers the kangaroo, named Abi, was 10 years old and a permanent resident of the animal reserve and not a bushfire rescue.
“Dudes I did not save Abi,” she wrote, adding: “Brolga and Tahnee did over 10 years ago @thekangaroosanctuary.
“No fires there but terrible drought brought on by climate change. Support them and all wildlife sanctuaries saving our animals!.”
In a follow-up post, the animal lover told followers while she thought the “sentiment” was sweet, she was concerned the gesture may not be paired with organisations directly assisting those affected by fires.
She wrote: “Those posting, don’t just use for clickbait, please pair with donation information for organisations like @wireswildliferescue, @wildlifevictoria, @wildtofree etc who are helping animals affected by fires.
“Least you could do, eh?”
The Kangaroo Sanctuary has a worldwide reputation for the work it does in rescuing and rehabilitating Australian wildlife.
The centre, which opened in 2011, was most recently home to Roger, an alpha male kangaroo who made a name for himself for his 1.8m stature and kickboxing antics.
Last year, after the sanctuary publicly revealed the mighty Roger had died, the announcement made global headlines.
In social media posts at the time it was announced the 12-year-old roo had died peacefully from old age.
“Sadly, Roger has passed away of old age,” the Sanctuary said in a video.
“He lived a lovely long life and was loved by millions around the world. We will always love you and miss you Roger.”
“It’s a very sad day here today, for we have lost our beautiful boy, Roger,” sanctuary manager Chris Barns said.
“Ten years ago I built this sanctuary to house Roger – and a couple of his wives – Ella and Abigail. I built it so they’d would have a place to live,” he went on.
“Roger was our alpha male for many years and grew up to be a kangaroo that people from all over the world have grown to love as much as we love him too.
“So we reflect on his life today and for many years to come.”