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Deja 'Roo


Claim:   A stunned animal dressed up for a photo gains revenge on his tormentors.

LEGEND

Examples:

[Collected on the Internet, 1997]

Some tourists were driving in a car through the Australian bush when they hit a large old-man red kangaroo. What a great photo opportunity! The animal stood about six feet tall and would really impress the pals back home So our intrepid visitors propped the roo up, and to add that little bit of humour, one of the blokes put his jacket on the roo. You guessed it! The roo was only stunned and promptly hopped off into the distance complete with jacket, wallet, passport etc.
 

[Brunvand, 1987]

The Italian yachting team, off on a break from the trials, decided to take a drive into the countryside near Fremantle, where the competition had been in progress. Their objective: to see a live kangaroo before they left Australia.

Several hands from the yacht Italia (major sponsor: Gucci) piled into a rented car and drove off for the bush in search of the wild 'roo. They didn't have much luck, and after driving many miles through the desolate countryside, they decided to turn around. Just then, a kangaroo hopped onto the road directly in front of them. They struck the poor creature, which landed with a bone-crunching thud on the pavement.

The Italians had seen their kangaroo, all right, and they didn't seem all that sorry that they had killed it in the process. In fact, as it lay motionless in the road, they decided it would be a great idea to get a photo of the unfortunate thing wearing a Gucci jacket.

One of the crew members gleefully volunteered his, and he slipped it on the corpse, stepped back and someone focused the camera. At that moment, the kangaroo, actually only stunned, leaped straight into the air and bounded off, wearing the jacket. That might not have been so bad — there were plenty more jackets where that came from — but in the left breast pocket were the keys to the car.
 

Origins:   This tale of callous travelers who use the tragedy of their accidentally injuring or killing a wild animal as an opportunity to pose for cutesy photographs, commonly known under the title "The Gucci Kangaroo," has featured Hopping mad kangaroos hopping away with expensive goods since long before there was a Gucci. Australian folklorist Bill Scott found a version of this legend from as far back as 1902, involving a kangaroo hit not by a car but by a train.

Depending on who tells the tale, the injured kangaroo makes off with a variety of loot, including designer jackets, RayBan sunglasses, cherished bush hats, clunky gold jewelry hung around its neck, a camera (also slung around its neck to give the creature that proper 'touristy' look), and, of course, keys to an automobile. Considering how popular this tale is, if all those Gucci-draped kangaroos ever set up shop to divest themselves of what they've made off with, the species will be set for life!

Though the setting of the "Gucci Kangaroo" tale is unique to Australia, the legend has a North American counterpart commonly known as "The Deer Departed":
A proud hunter has downed a huge deer with an impressive rack of antlers. He straightens out the animal's head and places his expensive high-powered rifle with its powerful telescopic sight across the antlers for the traditional photograph. Just as he has arranged his camera on the tripod, set the automatic timer, and started forward to pose with his kill, the animal revives, having only been stunned; it leaps to its feet and dashes off into the woods with the rifle still firmly in place.
Tales abound of stunned animals erroneously presumed dead and the havoc they wreak, such as a famous tape of an alleged 911 call in which a hunter reports how a deer he'd shot revived and is now attacking him. The ultimate of these yarns comes from comedian Woody Allen, however. Here is his famous moose monologue from the 1960s:
Here's a story you're not going to believe. I shot a moose once. I was hunting in upstate New York and I shot a moose.

And I strap him onto the fender of my car, and I'm driving along the West Side Highway. But what I don't realize was that the bullet did not penetrate the moose. It just creased his scalp, knocking him unconscious. And I'm driving through the Holland Tunnel and the moose wakes up.

So I'm driving with a live moose on my fender and the moose is signaling for a turn. And there's a law in New York State against driving with a conscious moose
on your fender, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. And I'm very panicky. And then it hits me — some friends of mine are having a costume party. It won't be my responsibility. So I drive up to the party and I knock on the door and the moose is next to me. My host comes to the door. I say, "Hello, you know the Solomons." We enter. The moose mingles. Did very well. Scored. Some guy was trying to sell him insurance for an hour and a half.

Twelve o'clock comes, they give out prizes for the best costume of the night. First prize goes to the Berkowitzes, a married couple dressed as a moose. The moose comes in second. The moose is furious. He and the Berkowitzes lock antlers in the living room. They knock each other unconscious. Now, I figure, here's my chance. I grab the moose, strap him on my fender, and shoot back to the woods. But I've got the Berkowitzes.

So I'm driving along with two Jewish people on my fender. And there's a law in New York State. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and especially Saturday.

The following morning, the Berkowitzes wake up in the woods in a moose suit. Mr. Berkowitz is shot, stuffed, and mounted at the New York Athletic Club. And the joke is on them, 'cause it's restricted.
Barbara "making the moose of the opportunity" Mikkelson

Sightings:   This legend was used as the basis for a 1995 "Guaranteed to keep you dry" Gore-Tex commercial:


This legend also drove the plot of the 2002 film Kangaroo Jack:


Last updated:   30 March 2014

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Sources:

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Baby Train.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.   ISBN 0-393-31208-9   (pp. 233-236).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Mexican Pet.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.   ISBN 0-393-30542-2   (pp. 24-25).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   "It's Unlikely a Kangaroo Was Ever Tied Down, Sport."
    The San Diego Union-Tribune.   19 February 1987   (p. D2).

    Scott, Bill.   Pelicans & Chihuahuas and Other Urban Legends.
    St. Lucia, Queensland: Univ. of Queensland, 1996.   ISBN 0-7022-2774-9   (p. 96).

    Telushkin, Rabbi Joseph.   Jewish Humor.
    New York: Wm. Morrow & Co., 1992.   ISBN 0-688-11027-4   (pp. 187-188).

Also told in:

    Cohen, Daniel.   The Beheaded Freshman and Other Nasty Rumors.
    New York: Avon Books, 1993.   ISBN 0-380-77020-2   (pp. 35-36).

    Flynn, Mike.   The Best Book of Bizarre But True Stories Ever.
    London: Carlton, 1999.   ISBN 1-85868-558-3.   (p. 50).

    Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill.   Now! That's What I Call Urban Myths.
    London: Virgin Books, 1996.   ISBN 0-86369-969-3   (p. 107).

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.
    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 49).