Social media reels in horror as shocking truth about 'mourning' kangaroo is revealed

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Jenny Noyes

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'Mourning' kangaroo photo raises questions

Evan Switzer's photos of a male kangaroo 'grieving' his dead mate have gone viral, but an Australia Museum research scientist says the kangaroo was trying to mate.

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When photographs circulated this morning of a kangaroo apparently 'cradling' his dying mate 'in mourning' for her, something didn't feel quite right. There wasn't enough detail about how the female died. No wildlife expert's opinion about kangaroo behaviour. Just a photographer describing the scene he stumbled across. And the internet's unquenchable thirst for stories and pictures about animals that stir dem feelz. 

But any cynicism about the circumstances of this outpouring of kangaroo 'sadness' could not compete with the reality check a wildlife researcher ended up giving. 

Australian Museum mammalogist Mark Eldridge delivered the blow that the images had been "fundamentally misinterpreted", noting that the male was clearly agitated from the heat but also sexually aroused. 

Evan Switzer captured these scene near Hervey Bay on Monday.

Evan Switzer captured these scene near Hervey Bay on Monday. Photo: Evan Switzer

"The kangaroo is not, unfortunately, 'propp[ing] up her head so she could see her joey before she died," he said.

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"This is a male trying to get a female to stand up so he can mate with her." 

Cue a collective scream-face-emoji.