Food by VICE

Utah Restaurant Decides This Is a Great Time to Start Serving Kangaroo Burgers

The bushfires that have been raging in Australia since September have killed as many as one billion animals.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Jan 14 2020, 12:00pm

Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images

Even the least perceptive among us know that things in Australia are very, very bad right now. The bushfires that have been raging since September have killed at least 28 people and as many as one billion-with-a-b animals, have destroyed more than 3,000 homes, and have burned through 20 million acres of land. Some have estimated that as many as 20 species may be pushed to extinction as a result, and a 'smoke halo' from the fires now stretches all the way around the planet.

Despite all of that, a Roy, Utah restaurant has decided that this is still a great time to add kangaroo to its menu. Burger Bar serves a different exotic meat every month, and the owners didn't seem to think that there was a compelling reason to change its January menu. "It shouldn’t offend people, really. It’s just hamburgers," Joe Fowler told KUTV. "We’re not making a statement or anything."

The restaurant had placed its order for the meat several months ago, and it arrived in Utah at the end of December. Fowler said that they "considered" not serving the kangaroo, but that they didn't have the space to store the meat. Plus, he says that the meat order helped to support Australia's economy.

In a Facebook post, Fowler wrote that the restaurant sold 400 kangaroo burgers in two days, and that the restaurant was currently out of its too-big-to-store meat supply. "[T]here is a chance we can get our hands on more, if the meat is currently in the States. We want all those interested to have the opportunity to try it, and will do everything we can to get it here, if at all possible," he wrote.

"Oh, and a very special 'thanks' to the individuals and organizations who thrive on and/or benefit from stirring up controversy and outrage. As a result of your 'hit piece' and the most wonderful customers in the world, we have had our two busiest days in January on record!"

Burger Bar said that it would be substituting camel for kangaroo for the rest of the month. ("With the bombing in Iraq I can’t wait to try The camel burger!!" one of those 'wonderful customers' commented on Facebook.)

Australia exported an estimated 3,000 tons of kangaroo meat to other countries between 2016 and 2017, and the United States has not had any import restrictions on it since the 1970s. The only exception is the state of California, which reinstated a ban on all kangaroo products, including meat and hides, in 2015. Even in most parts of Australia, the sale of the meat as anything other than pet food was prohibited until 1993.

According to the BBC, Australians have long been reluctant to eat kangaroo for a number of reasons, ranging from its status as the country's national emblem, to seeing them as roadkill, to memories of a TV show called Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, which made them seem like cute pets.

Burger Bar's willingness to source kangaroo meat from other suppliers, and its enthusiasm for calling out KUTV's report as a "hit piece," are evidence that they're not interested in humoring anyone who might not be comfortable with the timing of this particular special.