At well over 6 feet tall, Chris “Brolga” Barns is a big man, yet he’s still wary of approaching a crouched Roger the kangaroo. And when Roger suddenly stands erect and squares up to the human as if to start a boxing match, the reason for Barns’ caution becomes clear: this is no ordinary kangaroo. Roger is roughly as tall as Barns, weighs a remarkable 200 pounds and boasts biceps strong enough to squash a metal pail – or possibly gut Barns. This is why the muscly marsupial has recently taken the internet by storm; it’s also why Barns wants to do nothing but run away.
Fortunately, there’s little danger of the general public running into Roger unexpectedly, as he lives at The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia, where Barns is based. Indeed, Roger has resided there since 2006, when as an orphaned joey he was rescued by Barns.
Roger’s mother was the unfortunate victim of a car collision while Roger was still in her pouch. The joey Barns discovered was a doe-eyed infant weighing merely 2 pounds, a far cry from the Herculean specimen he is today.
But according to Tahnee Barns, general manager at The Kangaroo Sanctuary’s tour partner Centre Bush Bus and Tours, Roger hasn’t yet reached his peak. As she told Mashable Australia, “He’s still growing, so he’ll get bigger.”
Strength and size are certainly not uncommon qualities for male red kangaroos like Roger, which are naturally inclined to scuffle with other males when in the company of a “flyer” or “jill.” And the stronger they are, the likelier they are to win a mate.
Roger is expected to be around for quite a few years yet, so there’s plenty of time for him to expand those muscles even further. And for those hoping to replicate Roger’s ripped form, his current fitness regime involves fighting, grazing, pursuing his keepers and destroying the occasional metal bucket.
A picture of Roger making short work of one said metallic pail was one of the reasons why the animal’s impressive physique recently went viral. Some viewers may have at first been skeptical that the images weren’t doctored, but The Kangaroo Sanctuary insists otherwise; indeed, there are a couple of online Roger videos to prove it.
In one such clip, Roger can be seen chasing and threatening “Brolga” after he encroached on the brawny beast’s terrain. Barns sensibly scarpers from the marsupial, as he knows all too well that those muscles are not simply for show. Indeed, in 2014 Barns revealed to news.com.au that Roger had given him “six stitches in the groin.”
What’s more, Barns insisted he was “lucky” to have escaped from the incident without requiring further medical attention. “You’ve got to understand that big male kangaroos have the potential to disembowel you,” he told the news provider.
Barns also understands that he won’t be getting any special treatment from Roger, even though the keeper has cared for the animal since he was a baby. He explained on Facebook that Roger’s “natural instincts as a grown male tell him to fight me.”
Furthermore, the fact that Barns is approximately as tall as Roger may place him in even greater danger, with his height marking him as a possible challenger to the animal’s alpha male status. Barns, though, has the perfect defense procedure: run.
Despite the obvious risks, Barns insisted to Mother Nature Network in 2015 that he is “so proud” of his bouncy friend, having witnessed him grow from a junior joey into a bulging mass of “Aussie muscle.” The keeper had previously described Roger as being “mad as a cut snake” in a 2013 BBC blog post.
Barns was writing for the U.K. broadcaster because it produced a brief TV series, Kangaroo Dundee, focusing on Barns and his kangaroo welfare efforts – especially his work rescuing orphaned marsupials.
In the post, Barns described his role as being something like that of a “kangaroo mum.” Indeed, he has even been known to carry small ’roos around in makeshift pouches beneath his shirt, with his ultimate aim being to eventually get the animals back into their natural habitat.
However, Roger’s wounds took longer than hoped to heal. And now Barns believes it’s safer for the colossal kangaroo to remain at the sanctuary for the rest of his life; should he be released, he could pose a major threat to folks living nearby.
Indeed, Roger is an alpha male and will reportedly protect his status by confronting or assaulting anybody who dares to enter his territory or approach his mates.
This naturally made Roger extremely challenging to film for Kangaroo Dundee. In fact, TV crews had to remain separated from the animal by a wire cage in order to guard them from any potential violent outbursts.
All in all, however, as Barns told CNN, Roger is content to live at the sanctuary, not least because he has all the space and female companionship he could ever need.
Roger’s rise to internet fame bizarrely came shortly after another beefed-up kangaroo – an eastern grey nicknamed “Dave” – was pictured on the streets of Brisbane. The animal is distinguishable thanks to his impressive bulk and torn ear.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Dave actually weighs 13 pounds more than Roger. However, as the latter is not yet a decade old, Barns presumes that Roger will soon outweigh his east coast counterpart.
With Barns having described Roger as an “expert kick boxer,” there’s no doubt that the kangaroo has the fighting skills to back up his intimidating physique – just in case he and Dave ever confront each other. Make no mistake, this is one mightily menacing marsupial.