Last Saturday, while picnicking with his parents along South Australia’s rugged Fleurieu Peninsula, 7-year-old Simon Kruger wandered into the bush to pick flowers for his mother. It wasn't long, however, before the youngster became too turned-around to find his way back.
As night fell, with their son still lost, Simon's parents and a team of rescuers scoured the area in search of the boy, though their efforts proved fruitless. But on that chilly night, alone in the unforgiving wild, the missing child encountered a friendly local who he says helped save him from the elements.
According to Simon, in the midst of his wayward wanderings he was approached by a kangaroo, to which he fed the bouquet of wildflowers he had been collecting earlier. Eventually, the animal laid down and fell asleep next to him -- offering a bit of comfort and body-heat to the distraught child.
It wasn't until 24 hours later, as helicopters joined in the search, that Simon was discovered and airlifted back to civilization, recounting a story of animal-assisted survival that sounds almost too incredible to believe. Though it wouldn't be the first time a 7 year old told a tall tale, Simon's mother says she knew it was true as soon as she smelled his clothing:
“I think it was a miracle, when I smell his jacket, it’s kangaroo – bush and kangaroo,” Linda Kruger told 7News.
It may be impossible to say if the kangaroo was displaying rare altruism, or if its natural behavior was merely interpreted as such by an imaginative child -- but it wouldn't be the first time a kangaroo has stepped-in to help a human. In 2003, a rescued orphan kangaroo came to the aid of its keeper who had been knocked unconscious by a falling tree-limb while out on his property, sounding a distress call by yapping frantically until his family arrived to find him.
The animal would go on to win the National Animal Valour Award for its actions -- a distinction Simon's parents would no doubt like to see awarded to the animal that helped keep their son alive.