Taronga zoo says it won't fire keeper that punched kangaroo

Zoo keeper in viral video punching kangaroo that attacked his dog

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A zoo worker who punched a kangaroo in a video that has gone viral will not be sacked over his actions.

Greig Tonkins is an elephant keeper at Taronga Western Plains zoo, and was filmed striking a kangaroo in the face after the animal had his dog in a headlock during a pig hunting trip organised for a 19-year-old man dying of cancer.

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There have been calls from animal activist groups for the zoo to fire Mr Tonkins as a result of the incident, reports the Daily Mail.

Mr Tonkins was seen running over to the kangaroo with his dog 'Max' in a chokehold. The animal then lets go of the dog and turns to face Mr Tonkins, who swiftly punches it in the face.

The animal is left looking shell-shocked before it turns and jumps away.

According to WA Today, a zoo spokesman said there was "no suggestion" at this stage that his position would be terminated.

The statement read: "Mr Tonkins is an experienced zookeeper and during his six years at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has always followed Taronga's best practice approach to animal care and welfare.

"We confirm that there is no suggestion of Mr Tonkins' employment at Taronga Western Plains Zoo ending as a result of this event.

"However, the highest standards of animal welfare and care are a core value of Taronga and one that we expect our staff to uphold in all their interactions with wildlife and we continue to work with Mr Tonkins on his conduct in regards to this incident.

"Taronga strongly opposes the striking of animals and does not support the practice of using dogs to hunt, as this can result in negative welfare for both species."

WA Today adds that Mr Tonkins is a committee member of the Australian Pig Doggers and Hunters Association.

Animal activist groups were hugely unimpressed with the video.

Speaking to the Guardian, Verna Simpson, a director at the Humane Society International Australia, said: "It is very disturbing that someone of this character has a position there - they would have no trouble filling it with someone who respects animals.

"We are over rescuing circus elephants in India and we can't even look after our own species here."

And a spokeswoman for Peta said the action was neither "brave nor funny" and that the man "should be prosecuted instead of being made out to be a national hero".