In an Instagram video that now has over a million views, country singer Luke Bryan had a rather unusual gift waiting for his wife under the tree this Christmas: two baby kangaroos.
Bryan unveils the tiny animals by putting a bag in the lap of his wife, Caroline.
When she removes the blindfold and opens up the bag, she sees two large-eared joeys looking up at her.
The kangaroos named Margo and Todd, were the newest addition to Brett’s Barn, a small farm animal rescue founded in memory of Bryan’s late niece. Some fans were far from glad as it seemed that the animals were not rescued, but bought.
“Kangaroos are NOT pets,” one commenter said. “Just wait until they get older and start causing problems with your other animals and your kids … You can’t take care of them like they’re donkeys. Get a clue.”
Another raised concerns about the kangaroos becoming “petting zoo animals.” At the family’s animal rescue, children are often allowed to visit with the farm animal residents.
“The people standing up for the Bryans is sweet, but this is highly distressing to see,” the commenter said. “They are not petting zoo animals and should not be kept in nappies in front of a fireplace. Please give to expert carers. This is so upsetting to look at.”
PETA has called for an investigation into where they came from since Bryan’s post about the kangaroos. They urged the family to bring them to a sanctuary specializing in marsupials. Bryan has not commented on the organization’s concerns.
“Baby kangaroos belong in their mothers’ pouches, not in gift bags,” PETA vice president Colleen O’Brien said in a statement. “These joeys have complex needs, including specialized diets and room to roam — they are not toys and will only become more difficult to care for as they grow older.”
Kangaroos are native to Australia, and some species of kangaroos can weigh up to 200 pounds and stand as tall as 6 feet. They can hop 30 miles per hour and have incredibly strong rear legs and feet with very sharp claws. Adult wild and captive kangaroos sometimes show territorial tendencies, which can cause injury to people or other animals.
In the U.S., state regulations dictate whether or not someone can have kangaroos. Tennessee, where Bryan lives, doesn’t regulate the private possession of certain species, including kangaroos.
It is unclear where Bryan got the kangaroos, Prashant Khetan, CEO of Born Free USA, said it’s common for people to simply purchase them from a breeder within the U.S.
“Born Free has done quite a bit of investigatory research on the trade of exotic pets,” Khetan told The Dodo. “There is kangaroo breeding within the U.S., and bred kangaroos are often put up for sale.”
Margo and Todd will live at Brett’s Barn, Khetan noted that it’s possible they will become less and less tolerant of humans as they grow older.
“People often think that they will be cute and cuddly when they are young, without responsibly thinking about the care of a wild animal,” Khetan said. “As a kangaroo grows, so will its natural inclinations and its need for space. Wild animals like kangaroos have natural inclinations, which do not include interacting with human beings in the type of manner that a household pet is expected to.”
Khetan also added that purchasing wild animals as pets, Bryan may be giving the wrong message to impressionable fans.
“It not only normalizes the ownership of wild animals but tends to glamorize it,” he said. “If a societal hero thinks a kangaroo belongs as a pet and takes pictures of that young kangaroo drinking out of a baby’s bottle while in his or her lap, then others, and particularly children, will find that behavior acceptable and in fact ‘cool.’ But it’s not cool to use another being for your amusement, or to use as a pet an animal that belongs in the wild.”
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