The Australian animal guide to social distancing
After recovering from a flu-like disease, I felt in need of a longer walk. I was also curious to find out whether people were out hiking and how they well they were following Covid-19 inspired social distancing rules.
Since I knew kangaroos were much more sociable than wallabies, I thought it would be fun to try and get some illustrative pictures. Thus was born the first version of this guide, which I’ve expanded in the last week.
Note that in all of these walks I have been following the hiking principles I described a few days ago.
How did they do?
While the crimson rosellas were often less than 1.5m away, even the kangaroos seemed better at social distancing than some humans I’ve seen. And those that stayed closer together were probably part of the same household and thus exempt from social distancing rules.
They seemed to favour eat-in rather than takeaway places. This is no longer permitted. However, I couldn’t find the restaurant owners to confirm how long they had been open and whether they were aware of rules prohibiting such establishments.
They may believe they have some kind of exemption due to the restaurant being completely in the open air. Or perhaps they wish to assert that the guests are eating home-cooked grass in their own place of residence. And even in ordinary times, I’m not sure they’re permitted to run a restaurant in a national or state park without Parks Victoria permission.
I was also interested to know what payment methods were being used. Kangaroos are well known to prefer cash: such is their monopoly on the one dollar coin that they’re even pictured on many of them.
However, in recent weeks we’ve come to realise that cash can spread the disease. I didn’t observe any payments made, and considered it unwise to inspect their pouches while trying to illustrate social distancing. However, as good citizens I trust they will have abandoned cash in favour of contact-less payments.
I would love to see a kangaroo demonstrating hand-washing, but none of them seemed to practice it. The kookaburra above was the closest I saw, and I’m not convinced its method works for those of us without beaks and feathers. Additionally, it didn’t seem to be using soap or a sanitiser with over 60% alcohol. Though that may be because our responsible service laws don’t permit serving birds alcohol, even when it’s inside claw sanitiser or feather shampoo.
Most of these pictures were taken before the latest lockdown rules, and I’m not quite sure how these citizens keep track of the constant stream of new guidelines from Canberra and rules from Victoria. It doesn’t seem that they follow the news, nor could I see any evidence of them listening to official announcements. And as far as I know they are completely impervious to public shaming. I did try to question a magpie singing to itself, but it seemed to lose interest when it found the disease wasn’t bird flu.
However, just a reminder to all my kangaroo and emu readers out there: Just because you hold the coat of arms does not exempt you from obeying the law.