The man who heroically punched a kangaroo to save his pet dog is a zookeeper and ‘family man’ who was out on a special hunt with a dying friend.
Greig Tonkins, 34, found himself at the centre of international attention on the weekend after a video of him fighting a marsupial to save his beloved dog ‘Max’ went viral.
Mr Tonkins, who Daily Mail Australia can reveal is an elephant keeper at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales, was out hunting wild pigs with a group of friends in June when his dog was attacked by the roo, however video of the incident only went viral recently after it was posted to Facebook.
An elephant keeper standing more than 200 centimetres tall, Mr Tonkins stood toe to toe with the huge marsupial in the footage viewed by millions.
The father-of-two has gone to ground since the video went viral, overwhelmed by the attention his action has received.
A spokesperson for the zoo where Mr Tonkins works told Daily Mail Australia they were considering ‘appropriate action’ against him.
‘Taronga Western Plains Zoo can confirm that Greig Tonkins is an employee at Taronga Western Plains Zoo,’ the spokesperson said.
‘Good animal welfare and the protection of Australian wildlife are of the utmost importance to Taronga.
‘We are working with Mr Tonkins to understand the exact circumstances of the event and will consider any appropriate action.
He was part of a large group of men who went on the hunting trip, in an effort to help their sick friend Kailem Barwick catch a ‘tonner’ – a wild bore that weighs more than 100 kilograms.
A videographer joined the group to record their special trip and ended up recording the moment that has now gone viral.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, one of the men on the trip backed Mr Tonkins’ actions, saying the punch was only thrown to protect the dog and prevent the roo attacking anyone else.
‘The dog wanted no part of it, all it was trying to do was escape from the roo and that’s why he stepped in,’ the man said.
‘There’s people on social media saying, “I know men like that, I bet they killed it afterwards”, but that’s just ridiculous.
‘He only threw the punch to redirect the animal and afterwards there were a few nervous and relieved laughs, and then we just went on with getting Kailem a tonner.’
The trip ultimately proved successful, with the group ensuring the young man managed to kill his ‘tonner’.
Sadly Kailem passed away last week after a long battle, with his funeral to be be held this Thursday.
The fellow hunter said he was dumbfounded by the reaction in Australia and left wondering why some were happy for the dog to be injured but not the kangaroo.
‘The video went viral in America and there was not one bad comment, and then it goes crazy in Australia and there’s a whole bunch of outrage,’ he said.
‘It made me sick to be part of this country when people were wishing this family man and dog died, when the kangaroo wasn’t even hurt.’
Daily Mail Australia can also reveal Mr Tonkins is a committee member of the Australian Pig Doggers and Hunters Association.
In October, ‘Max’ – the same specially trained dog that was attacked by the roo – won a high jumping competition at the organisation’s AGM, with the performance captured on video.
Millions of people across the world have viewed the video since it was posted to Facebook.