Nature (Season 30) – "Kangaroo Mob"

Air date: 01/11/2012

Nature investigates a Kangaroo Mob,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 on PBS

Exclusive content and streaming episodes available at pbs.org/nature

In the past 50 years, the eastern gray kangaroo population around Canberra, Australia’s capital city, has exploded from a few hundred to tens of thousands.  Forced from the surrounding drought-stricken hills, hungry kangaroos have done their best to adapt to city life, dining on city parks and suburban lawns— though they do pay a price for their meals.  Each year, thousands of kangaroos lose their lives in collisions with cars on busy roads, causing injuries and property damage of more than a million dollars in the process.  Overgrazing by large numbers of kangaroos has also created stress on the environment they have overrun.  It’s all led to a government policy of culling, and an emotional public dispute between those who support reducing kangaroo numbers and those who are appalled at the prospect of killing this famous and beloved Australian icon.  Can they be relocated, or can their numbers be controlled through forced contraception?

Following the stories of several urban kangaroos in the study, Nature reveals how they manage to survive in the city.  Kangaroo Mob premieres Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).  Narrated by Chris Morgan, the film profiles a new generation of metropolitan marsupials and the ongoing debate on how to manage them.  After broadcast, the episode will stream online with additional content at pbs.org/nature.

Celebrating its 30th season, Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV.  For nearly 50 years,WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and other programs for the New York community.

In their year-long study of the kangaroo mob, government ecologists Don Fletcher and Claire Wimpenny track 25 kangaroos using GPS equipment, keeping close tabs on their comings and goings.  Analyzing the data retrieved from radio-collars, they are able to put together a map of where and when the kangaroos forage for food.  Their evening forays into the suburbs to feed on backyard lawns and gardens and visits to local football fields to graze are consequential, as an adult kangaroo consumes as much as five pounds of grass a day.

Black Spot, fully grown at over six feet tall, is the mob’s dominant male.  Having fathered most of the joeys in his group, he must contend with young bucks looking for a chance to succeed him.  In the same mob, Madge teaches her son Sonny about city life, while also carrying a second joey named Alice, now safely nursing in her pouch.  But research indicates that 70% of young joeys in this area don’t survive to adulthood, falling victim to starvation, predation, or disease.  The mob also faces the cull, in which an estimated 2,000 kangaroos are projected to be killed.

Supporting a completely different way to control kangaroo numbers are Rosemary Austen and Steve Garlick, who manage a sanctuary set up to rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned kangaroos, and ultimately to relocate and release them in the wild.  In the more than ten years they have been in operation, the two have taken in more than a thousand ailing animals and nursed them to health, getting to know each of them well.

At the end of their one-year study, Don and Claire come to the conclusion that, contrary to common belief, kangaroos are rather smart and road-savvy.  These urban kangaroos are in fact adapting surprisingly well to living side by side with humans, and they are sharing their new survival skills with the next generation.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS.  Fred Kaufman is executive producer.  Kangaroo Mob is a production of 360 Degree Films in association with ABC Television, FILM VICTORIA AUSTRALIA, SCREEN AUSTRALIA, RTBF, SVERIGES TELEVISION AB and YLE.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.  Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.  The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won more than 600 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities, and environmental organizations including 10 Emmys, three Peabodys and the first award given to a television program by the Sierra Club.  The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.  Recently, Fred Kaufman was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media by the 2012 International Wildlife Film Festival.

PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides, and more.

Major corporate support for Nature is provided by CanonU.S.A., Inc.  Additional support is provided by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the nation’s public television stations.

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About WNET

New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries,  children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online.  Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through SundayArts, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.

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