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Kangaroo emblems and popular culture

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Title: Kangaroo emblems and popular culture  
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Language: English
Subject: Lampago, Sports mascots, Allocamelus, Emmet (heraldry), Biscione
Collection: Animals in Popular Culture, Australian Culture, Sports Mascots
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kangaroo emblems and popular culture

Kangaroo emblems and popular culture deals with how the kangaroo has become a recognisable symbol of Australia, both within Australia itself, and internationally. It also deals with the various uses which have been made of the image and name of the kangaroo.


  • European first encounters 1
  • Kangaroo status 2
  • Kangaroo emblems and logos 3
  • Kangaroos and coins 4
  • Kangaroo mascots in Australia 5
  • Architectural references 6
  • Public art and sculpture 7
  • Decorative arts and design 8
  • Cultural references 9
    • Television and films 9.1
    • Songs 9.2
    • Books 9.3
    • Cartoons 9.4
    • Advertisements 9.5
    • Video games and other games 9.6
    • Others 9.7
  • Kangaroos and sports teams 10
    • Australia 10.1
      • Australian national teams 10.1.1
      • Australian domestic teams 10.1.2
    • United States 10.2
    • Other countries 10.3
  • Place names 11
  • References 12

European first encounters

The kangaroo was considered a unique oddity when Captain Cook's HMB Endeavour arrived back in England in 1771 with a specimen on board. Over time it has come to symbolise Australia and Australian values.[1]

  1. ^ Harper, Melissa and White, Richard (eds) (2010). Symbols of Australia, p. 28-29, UNSW Press, Sydney: National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra. ISBN 978-1-921410-50-5
  2. ^ Symbols of Australia: Kangaroo, National Museum of Australia
  3. ^ Harper, Melissa and White, Richard (eds) (2010). Symbols of Australia, p. 24. UNSW Press, Sydney: National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra. ISBN 978-1-921410-50-5
  4. ^ Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: About Australia – National Icons
  5. ^ Harper, Melissa and White, Richard (eds) (2010). Symbols of Australia, p. 25. UNSW Press, Sydney: National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra. ISBN 978-1-921410-50-5
  6. ^ Qantas: The Kangaroo Symbol
  7. ^ Tourism Australia: Using the Brandmark
  8. ^ Australian Made | Australian Grown
  9. ^ Cassells, Vic (2000). The Destroyers: their battles and their badges. East Roseville, NSW: Simon & Schuster. pp. 11–12.  
  10. ^ "1982 Commonwealth Games Mascot," Australian Commonwealth Games Association
  11. ^ Kangaroo soft toy mascot: Red Cross Hut, Rouelles, Australian War Memorial
  12. ^ Photograph: Australian nurse with a kangaroo mascot, Harefield, England, Australian War Memorial
  13. ^ Macintosh & Degraves Token Shilling 1823, Museum Victoria
  14. ^ Garrett salver, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
  15. ^ Terence Lane kangaroo collection, National Museum of Australia


Kangaroo Creek Reservoir

Kangaroo River and Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Ground

Kangaroo Point

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Flat

The kangaroo has inspired a number of place names in Australia. More prominent examples include:

Place names

Vienna Kangaroos

Etobicoke Kangaroos

The FC Bohemians Praha, a Czech football team is nicknamed the Klokani (Czech for kangaroos) since their tour in Australia in 1927.

The Samoa national Australian rules football team is nicknamed the Kangaroos.

Other countries

Abington Friends School, in Abington, Pennsylvania, has a kangaroo named Roo as its mascot.

The kangaroo is the mascot for Killeen High School in Killeen, Texas

Nashville Kangaroos

Moe the Kangaroo is the mascot for Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia

The kangaroo is the mascot for Wilmington Friends School in Wilmington, Delaware

The kangaroo is the mascot for State University of New York at Canton in Canton (town), New York

Stomper is the new mascot for the TNA wrestling company.

Lizzie (a purple and white kangaroo) is the mascot of Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Washington

The kangaroo is the mascot for Terryville High School in Terryville, Connecticut

The kangaroo is the mascot for Austin College in Sherman, Texas

Zippy the kangaroo is the mascot for The University of Akron

Kasey Kangaroo is the mascot for the University of Missouri–Kansas City

United States

Perth Kangaroos IFC

The North Melbourne Football Club in the Australian Football League is nicknamed the Kangaroos.

Australian domestic teams

The Australian men's national basketball team is nicknamed the Boomers.

The Australian national ice hockey team is nicknamed the Mighty Roos.

The Australian Women's field hockey team is nicknamed the Hockeyroos.

The Australia national under-17 football team is the Joeys

The Australia national under-20 football team is nicknamed the Young Socceroos

The Australia national under-23 football team plays Football at the Summer Olympics and is nicknamed Olyroos.

The Australia national association football team (men's) is nicknamed the Socceroos.

The Australia national rugby union team is nicknamed the Wallabies.

The Australian national rugby league team is nicknamed the Kangaroos.

Australian national teams


The kangaroo features prominently in sport. Australian sports teams with nicknames derived from the kangaroo (and wallaby) include the following:

Kangaroos and sports teams

Chimera Punch, monster kangaroolike Tokyo Mew Mew

In the anime and manga series Reborn! the character Ryohei Sasagawa has a kangaroo in one of his ring boxes that enables healing and advances abilities of others.

The Pokémon Kangaskhan is based on a kangaroo with reptilian features.

In Warriors of Virtue, the five main heroes are roos.

Austin of The Backyardigans is a young Kangaroo.


The Animal Crossing series features kangaroos as possible neighbours.

In Bomberman 3 and 5 on SNES, the animals which hatch from eggs are called rooeys and they are based on kangaroos.

In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Johnny Cage turns into a Kangaroo.

In the Game Boy Color games The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, there is a kangaroo by the name of Ricky which will help you in your quest.

Roger the boxing kangaroo from the Tekken series of video games.

Sheila, a female kangaroo of the video game series Spyro the Dragon.

Ripper Roo, a crazy kangaroo in a straitjacket, is a villain of the video game series Crash Bandicoot.

Roo is a fighting kangaroo in the Sega Genesis video game Streets of Rage 3.

Video games and other games

Dunkaroos are a snack in the USA which used to feature a talking kangaroo in commercials and product containers.

Aussie hair products from Procter & Gamble sports a kangaroo hopping on its label, while the magazine and television ads display an animatronic purple kangaroo in them.


In the fifth season of The Flintstones, the Rubbles adopt Hoppy, a pet hoparoo (a Stone Age version of a kangaroo) from Down Under, for Bamm-Bamm.

In the Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil episode "Bwar and Peace", Brad talks about his Australian self, who after was punched, and the kangaroo appears before and during his wedding with the girl he's with. Kick also interacted with the kangaroo.

In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, there is a kangaroo named MacHopper, who is also a parody of Crocodile Dundee, another Australian icon.

In The Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Australia", Homer and Bart try to escape from a crowd in the pouches of two kangaroos, which they ultimately can't because of the kangaroos' pouches being filled with mucus.

Dot and the Kangaroo was a cartoon juxtaposed on film of the Australian bush.

Rocko the wallaby in Rocko's Modern Life

In British punk style comic strips Tank Girl, the protagonist's boyfriend is Booga, the mutant anthro kangaroo. There are some other minor roo characters. In the US movie Tank Girl, slightly based on the strips, protagonist is assisted by Rippers - mutant Kangaroo genetically engineered supersoldiers (and Booga is among them, of course).

In Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry, the commentators are holding a kangaroo by the leash when the racers reach Australia.

In several Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons, Sylvester the Cat is beaten up by Hippety Hopper the baby kangaroo, who always accomplishes this feat after escaping from the captivity of humans who have attempted to take him to a zoo in assorted American cities, and whom Sylvester believes to be an oversized mouse.

A team of kangaroo basketball players feature in the French cartoon series Kangoo and its spin-off/prequel Kangoo Juniors.

Kanga and Roo are fictional mother and son kangaroos in the popular series of cartoons about Winnie-the-Pooh.

Kiko the Kangaroo is a recurring character in Terrytoons cartoons.


A kangaroo is shot and killed by Ernest in The Swiss Family Robinson, a book written by Johann Wyss.

One of the several intelligent races described in the fantasy novel Shadowkeep, written by Alan Dean Foster, are high-bounding, fun-loving marsupials, known as "roos" and obviously meant to be intelligent kangaroos.

Kidding Kangaroo in the Sweet Pickles book series by Ruth Lerner Perle, Jacquelyn Reinach and Richard Hefter.

Kanga and Roo are fictional mother and son kangaroos in the popular series of children's books about Winnie-the-Pooh.

There is a "Sour Kangaroo" in the Dr. Seuss tale Horton Hears A Who!


Kangaroos are also mentioned in the songs "Christmas Where The Gum Trees Grow", "Christmas in the Scrub" and "The Five Days of Christmas".

Kangaroos are also mentioned in Holden jingle "Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars".

Kangaroos are also mentioned in the Peter Allen song Tenterfield Saddler.

Kangaroos are mentioned, or featured, in the Rolf Harris songs Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport and Six White Boomers.


The Hallmark Properties television series Zoobilee Zoo has a character named Whazzat Kangaroo. (The Canadian actress and singer Stephanie Louise "Stevie" Vallance acts out this role.)

A giant kangaroo is featured in the movie Welcome to Woop Woop.

Kangaroo Jack, the title character of an American film of the same name.

Matilda is a 1978 movie starring Elliott Gould about a promoter working with a kangaroo.

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, star of the 1960s Australian children's television series.

Television and films

Kangaroos are extremely well represented in films, television, songs, toys and souvenirs around the world.

Cultural references

The kangaroo has continued to be incorporated into decorative designs by craftspeople and designers in Australia and elsewhere in the world. The Terence Lane kangaroo collection at the National Museum of Australia consists of more than 150 objects and ephemera in a wide range of styles produced over a period of 150 years. The collection ranges from a one metre-high Doulton ceramic kangaroo umbrella stand to small items of jewellery.[15]

An early depiction of a kangaroo on an item of decorative art is the Macintosh & Degraves Token Shilling 1823.[13] Another early example is the Garret salver. This item of Tasmanian colonial silver incorporates a kangaroo, an emu and wattle branches in its design.[14]

Decorative arts and design

Kangaroo and joey sculpture at Queens Park in Ipswich, Queensland

Eastern grey kangaroo sculpture in the City Botanic Gardens

City Roo sculptures (1999). Brisbane, Queensland - made from scrapmetal by Christopher Trotter

Perth kangaroo sculptures (1996, 1997 & 2000). Perth, Western Australia, by Anne Neil, Joan Walsh-Smith, Charles Smith

Petrie Tableaux sculpture (1989). In front of King George Square by Stephen Walker

Victorian lamp post (1880) in front of the Royal Exhibition Building at the Carlton Gardens in Carlton, Victoria

Notable examples include:

Kangaroo motifs have been used as a form of public art.

Perth Council house kangaroo sculptures

Public art and sculpture

It was the Federation architecture, however, which brought native ornamentation into the mainstream, so that kangaroos began to be mass-produced as ornamentation on domestic houses in the large cities, as part of an Australiana movement and effort to create a uniquely Australian style. Examples of this decoration include the ornamental terracotta tile capping on residential roofs. Reproduction products using Kangaroos are still used today.

The first uses of Kangaroo ornaments as architectural expression appeared during the Victorian era. This was at first limited to the use of the coat of arms on buildings; however, kangaroos soon became used as decorative motifs on their own in some commercial buildings, particularly in Melbourne.

Architectural references

Kangaroo gargoyles atop The Carlton Club (built 1889) in Carlton, Victoria.

During the First World War, pet kangaroos and toy kangaroos were a popular choice of mascot for Australian servicemen.[11][12]

Matilda, the mascot at the 1982 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, was represented by both a cartoon kangaroo and a 13-metre high (42 feet 8 inches) mechanical kangaroo (which winked at the spectators during the opening and closing ceremonies). The 'medal', which was worn by both the cartoon and mechanical versions of Matilda, features the 1982 Commonwealth Games logo — a stylised representation of a kangaroo bounding (in "flight") – similar to the pose of the kangaroo featured on the pre-decimal half-penny coin.[10]

The Boxing kangaroo – mascot for the Australia II team in the 1983 America's Cup. This rendition of the kangaroo has become a sporting icon, known informally as the green and gold "Sporting Kangaroo", and is highly popular with cricket crowds and international sporting events which feature Australian participation.

Matilda, at the 1982 Commonwealth Games

Kangaroo mascots in Australia

Five Kangaroos are featured on the Australian one dollar coin

The Kangaroo was also featured on the Australian pre-decimal half-penny coin.

The Kangaroo was featured on the Australian pre-decimal penny coin.

The kangaroo has been featured on pre-decimal coins, and on decimal coins.

Kangaroos and coins

Australian 1961 half penny and 1964 penny with Kangaroos.

British clothing and headwear company Kangol, known for its berets, features a kangaroo in its logo.

The kangaroo is the official emblem of Northern Territory Police.

The red kangaroo is the animal emblem of the Northern Territory.

The Victorian Coat of Arms includes the upper portion of a kangaroo holding an Imperial Crown in its paws.

The kangaroo is part of the official emblem of the Royal Australian Regiment with a kangaroo in between two Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles.

Warships of the Royal Australian Navy have red kangaroo symbols (based on the kangaroo on the reverse of the Australian penny) fixed to either side of their superstructure or funnel. This originated during the Korean War: as the destroyer HMAS Anzac was repeatedly mistaken for a British warship, her executive officer had a brass 'weathervane' in the shape of a kangaroo made and mounted to the ship's mainmast.[9]

The Royal Australian Air Force roundel features a bounding red kangaroo.

The Australian Grown logo uses a golden kangaroo in a green triangle to show that a product is made or grown in Australia.[8]

Tourism Australia makes use of the kangaroo in its logo to "help ensure instant recognition for Australia around the world".[7]

Australia's national airline, Qantas, uses a bounding kangaroo for its logo. The kangaroo has always been part of the Qantas logo,[6] and the airline has previously been known informally as "The Flying Kangaroo".

Two red kangaroos serve as bearers to the Coat of Arms of Western Australia.

The kangaroo and emu are bearers on the Australian Coat of Arms. It has been claimed these animals were chosen to signify a country moving 'forward' because of a common belief that neither can move backward.[5]

Australian Coat-of-Arms

Kangaroo emblems and logos

The kangaroo has appeared on coins and emblems, been used in logos, architectural decoration, the decorative arts and public art, been a mascot and used in the naming of sports teams. Kangaroos also appear in books, television series, films, cartoons, games and songs.

It took a long time for the kangaroo to achieve official recognition in Australia. Despite being a "declared noxious animal" because of its reputation for damaging crops and fences and competing with domestic animals for resources, the kangaroo finally achieved official recognition with its inclusion on Australia's coat of arms in 1908.[3] The kangaroo is now popularly regarded as Australia’s unofficial animal emblem.[4]

Kangaroo totemic ancestor - Australian Aboriginal bark painting, Arnhem Land, c. 1915.

Kangaroo status


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