Tourism Australia ad draws backlash from kangaroo advocates

Tourism Australia ad draws backlash from kangaroo advocates

The latest Tourism Australia ad campaign has found controversy among animal rights activists, who say the new mascot, a CGI kangaroo, is used while ignoring concerns about the commercial killing of kangaroos.

The commercial, which features Ruby the CGI kangaroo, is the next instalment of Tourism Australia’s ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ global brand platform and will star Australian actress and Tourism Australia ambassador Rose Byrne, who will be the English voice of Ruby.

Animals Australia said the launch of a kangaroo mascot as the international symbol of Australian tourism could backfire by highlighting the mass slaughter of our national icon in the largest commercial killing of land-based wildlife on the planet.

The animal protection organisation today criticised the “hypocrisy” of using kangaroos to lead Tourism Australia’s new global campaign while over 1.5 million kangaroos are cruelly slaughtered each year in a largely unmonitored trade.

“Tourism Australia using a kangaroo as its ‘face’ of tourism is the equivalent of Japan adopting a whale as its tourism icon or Canada marketing itself using harp seal images,” said Animals Australia director of development Louise Bonomi.

“If Australia Tourism’s Ruby the Roo was an actual kangaroo, she would be targeted by the commercial kangaroo shooting industry.

“Tourists would be absolutely horrified if they had a glimpse of the nightly slaughter that inflicts immense suffering on kangaroos shot in the wild and huge trauma for the surviving animals who manage to escape the shooters’ rifles.

“This is an industry that thrives under the cover of darkness, which might explain why Tourism Australia were possibly unaware of it and did not anticipate any backlash. Most Australians would not know that this industry exists and that joeys are killed every night as ‘collateral damage’. Too small to be profitable, but too vulnerable to survive without their mums who are taken by shooters, the joeys are instead routinely killed by bludgeoning or decapitation.

“The government-endorsed mass commercial slaughter of kangaroos in Australia has become our national shame that has sparked growing outrage in the US, Europe and other countries that cannot understand our seeming indifference to a beloved species found only in our corner of the planet.

The sale of kangaroo meat and leather has long been banned in California while a Kangaroo Protection Act introduced in the US Congress last year aims to ban the sale of kangaroo products nationally. A growing number of global brands are also turning their backs on kangaroo products as part of ethical buying policies that ban participation in international wildlife trades.

“While the Tourism Australia advertisement conveys the compassion that most Australians have for kangaroos, no marketing campaign can undo the massive damage to Australia’s international reputation caused by our callous disregard of many of our unique wildlife species, including kangaroos,” Bonomi said.

Legendary Australian Test Cricketer and Kangaroos Alive ambassador Jason “Dizzy” Gillespie said the Federal and New South Wales governments are using the iconic animal to drum up tourism, with billboards around the world, while at the same time, ignoring concerns about the commercial killing of kangaroos.

“I’m guessing actress Rose Byrne, who is the voice of Ruby, doesn’t realise what really goes on at night,” Dizzy said.

“Where the bloody hell are you then?” he said, echoing the words of previous ambassador Lara Bingle.

Tourism Australia’s global campaign will officially launch on Wednesday, 19 October 2022.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. The kangaroo is iconic enough to be on our national coat of arms – it is certainly iconic enough to be used (very sensibly in my opinion) by Tourism Australia to promote the country. Our industry has been thrashed from pillar to post for the last three years. I haven’t seen Animals Australia protesting about the poisoning of rabbits, the culling of crocodiles, the roadkill of many speices etc. It’s time as an industry we stopped being the whipping boy of every every vigilante with a ’cause’.

ad campaign Animals Australia Louise Bonomi tourism australia

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