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Feb 17, 2004
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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=629 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Life-saving kangaroo wins award

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Lulu was reared by the Richard family after her mother was killed

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!-- E IIMA -->Lulu the kangaroo will leap into the record books when she becomes the first marsupial to receive a bravery award.

She'll receive the RSPCA's Australian Animal Valour Award for saving the life of a farmer knocked unconscious.

Leonard Richards, 52, was hit by a falling branch, as he checked for storm damage on his property last September.

Lulu, who was reared by the Richards family, made a huge commotion to alert others, in a scene similar to the 1960s Australian children's series Skippy.

"It's the first time a native animal has ever received the award," said RSPCA executive officer Jenny Hodges.

"Certainly the vast majority of recipients have been dogs," she told the Associated Press.

'Pushing up daisies'

Mr Richards said he owed his life to the four-year-old kangaroo, who they rescued from the pouch of her mother killed in a road accident.

"I'd be pushing up daisies if it wasn't for Lulu," he said.

He estimates he was unconscious for around half an hour after being struck by the branch not far from the house on his farm, 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of Melbourne.

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Lulu looked like she'd rolled me over on my side to keep my airway clear, but we'll never know for sure

Leonard Richards

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!-- E IBOX -->His wife, Lynn, said at the time she had been alerted by the kangaroo's out-of-character behaviour.

"I heard Lulu, she has this bark, and its a very loud bark that she gives out, not like a dog's sound it's quite a nice sound," she said.

"I just looked down and I [saw] her at the paddock and Brendan our nephew was with us and I said to him, Len's down there," she told Reuters news agency.

Mr Richards said his nephew told him afterwards that Lulu had been standing over him with her hind legs at his back.

"She looked like she'd rolled me over on my side to keep my airway clear, but we'll never know for sure," he said.

He was evacuated by helicopter to a Melbourne hospital and has since made a full recovery.

Lulu is only the ninth animal to receive the RSPCA's award honouring animals that display exceptional courage in the face of danger. "What she did was really exceptional," said Jenny Hodges. The story is reminiscent of the long-running Skippy series, about a kangaroo that rescues people in distress in the Australian bush.



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