On the 6th of March, MEP Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL) hosted the European première of the film ‘Kangaroo- A Love-Hate Story’ in the European Parliament. During the event, discussions took place with the film’s Director and Australian politicians.

The documentary reveals the disturbing truth on the kangaroo industry in Australia. If the kangaroo image is widely used for touristic or brand purpose, it is also perceived as a pest to be shot and sold for profit. The kangaroo industry generates some $133 million a year. The film exposed the massive and cruel kangaroo slaughter and stressed the major food safety and animal welfare concerns.

The EU is the largest importer of kangaroo meat and skins. Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands import the equivalent of 1 million animals each year. However, the kangaroo trade raises serious food safety concerns and does not respect the EU regulation on the import of game meat. Indeed, kangaroos are shot and gutted in the field. The carcasses are transported in the heat on open trucks over longer distances before the meat is actually processed. It is therefore unlikely that the basic hygiene rules are applied and the contamination of kangaroo meat is logistically almost unavoidable. Due to the unacceptable pathogenic contamination, Russia banned kangaroo meat imports three times, most recently in 2014. With Russia’s ban, the European Union has become the largest importer of kangaroo meat in the world.

The documentary reveals the shocking breaches to basic animal welfare and the enormous animal suffering behind this business. Commercial kangaroo shooters must adhere to the killing standards set out by a national code of practice which requires them to kill each kangaroo with a single shot to the head and to make certain the animal is dead before targeting another one. However, as kangaroos are nocturnal, they are shot at night without any scrutiny. Non-lethal shots are consequently common, leaving the animals dying slowly and painfully.

Another contentious issue is what happens to baby kangaroos (joeys) when their mothers are killed. The Australian national Code of Practice requires shooters to shoot at-foot joeys and decapitate or “crush the skull and destroy the brain” of young cubs still in their mother’s pouch. This practice is in complete opposition to the EU animal welfare values and legislation against animal cruelty. The babies that manage to avoid this cruel slaughter are left in the field where they usually die of starvation. Unofficial statistics assess that over 110,000 joeys died from commercial shooting in 2015.

The massive shooting also endangers the species since kangaroos grow and breed slowly and have high juvenile mortality. The current shooting quotas of 15-20 percent exceed actual kangaroo population growth rates, hence putting several kangaroo species to the brink of local and regional extinction.

The event was opened by an introduction of Anja Hazekamp MEP (GUE/NGL, NL), Vice-President of the Intergroup and a by a presentation of Reineke Hameleers Director of Eurogroup for Animals on the EU perspective on kangaroo trade. Mark Pearson an MP of the Animal Justice Party Australia and Lee Rhiannon, Senator of the Australian Greens outlined the impact of kangaroo trade on the conservation of these species. The Director of the film, Michael MctIntyre, introduced the film. After the screening, Marianne Thieme (Leader Party for the Animals) gave the closing remarks.


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