Kangaroo Name How The Kangaroo Got Its Name

A male kangaroo is called a boomer
A female kangaroo is called a flyer
A baby kangaroo is called a joey


Pronounced Can-ga-roo


Origin of the Name "Kangaroo" Who Named the Knagaroo?

The first description of the strange hopping animals of Australia was in 1629 by the Dutch navigator Francois Pelsaert while sailing off the western coast of Australia. He didn't give these animals a name.

The first detailed accounts of this hopping animal came from members of the crew of Captain James Cook's voyage to Australia in 1770. Cook's ship, the Endeavour, was badly damaged while trying to cross the Great Barrier Reef and beached itself for urgent repairs near the modern-day city of Cooktown on the Queensland coast . While there the crew came across many weird animals. They even shot a few kangaroos, noting that the animal's meat was quite delicious.

It was Joseph Banks, a naturalist on the Endeavour, who wrote the following note in August 1770 "Quadrupeds we saw but few and were able to catch few of them that we did see. The largest was called by the natives kangooro".

This was his interpretation of the word "gaNurru" used by the Guugu Yimidhirr aboriginal people who lived in the area where the Endeavour was beached. This is the word these Aboriginals used to describe the kangaroo.


Folklore About the Name 'Kangaroo' It's Not True

Popular legend has it that the first European explorers asked a local Australian aboriginal what the name of the hopping animal was. He replied 'kangaru'. The explorers thought this was the name of the animal, but in actual fact what the aborigine was merely saying "hey I don't understand your question". This interpretation of how the name originated is not correct.

Related: What is a Kangaroo?


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