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By Peter Bennett  
April 1, 2003

The message came in the mail and it wasn't news to me. As an art and theatre critic I'm acutely aware that the same sentiment is shared by whole busloads of people. What was new, was the novel way in which the message was enforced. It came wrapped around a jar of dried kangaroo excrement with a label attesting to its authenticity as "gift poo".

Now, when one receives a jar of dried kangaroo excrement in the mail what should one do, what's the protocol? The first thing that struck me was that it weighed almost nothing but I had no idea of the specific gravity of any other kind of poo with which to make comparisons. Does wildebeest poo float; does elephant poo make good Frisbees?

I peered into the jar, shook it, examined it from all angles and then did the obvious - I unscrewed the lid and smelled it. Strange stuff kangaroo poo, it was like marble sized horse poos with seeds and pieces of grass protruding from it. And it didn't smell. Aha, I thought, it's fake. Somebody 's taken a few scats from Australia's national icon, made molds of them and now they're knocking out plastic poo by the ton in some Nike-like Pakistani sweatshop using child labor. It certainly seemed like it could be the real thing and according to the label on the jar it was from Down Under. Down Under, come to think of it, is the region from which most poo originates with the possible exception of flying fox poo when evacuated at rest. I threw a nugget of it into the loo. It floated.

The next thing to ricochet off the outer reaches of my thinking apparatus was "who is it that thinks I'm so much of a s-t that they reinforce the message by sending all the way to Australia for a jar of kangaroo crap just to tell me about it?"

The next day I took the stuff into the office. Everybody there thought it was "a scream a hoot, a giggle". My editor - born 15 years before Jumpin' Jack Flash was recorded - said it was a gas. "No", said the features editor, "it's definitely a solid." Amid a barrage of wisecracks of the Thunder from Down Under variety I headed for the newsroom and asked the crew if anyone else had received a jar of marsupial fertilizer. Nobody had, but in the 80s our investigative journalist had had a whole load of horse manure dumped in his parking spot by someone he'd written a not too complimentary article about.

At home that evening I did a little investigative journalism myself. I sat down at the computer determined to find, on the net, an Australian Company purveying kangaroo poo. Surely it couldn't be too difficult to find an animal poo purveyor? How many could there be?

Well, animal poo, of one kind or another, seems to be in fashion these days. I found a company in the good ol USA called Inajar selling not only bull but chicken product and another company called DogDoo selling just that. Then there was a gift shop in Fairbanks Alaska selling genuine Moose poo products together with kids candy and swizzle sticks in look-alike sugary moose poo. There's ZooDoo who sell zoo animal poo made into a variety of animal shapes which you place in your garden and watch as they slowly dissolve in the rain and there's even some outfit in Montana selling fossilized dinosaur dung. I decided to qualify my search by asking the search engines for Kangaroo Poo. In return I got a company in London England called The Kangaroo Poo Clothing Company. They sold all kinds of kids apparel but didn't sell the genuine article. When I finally tracked down the firm in Australia who'd sold the jar of poo to whoever sent it to me, I was disappointed. It only cost them $20! At twenty bucks it was the cheapest poo on the net. My detractor was a cheapskate. Original maybe, but a cheapskate nevertheless

If he/she had gone to INAJAR it would have set them back $59 and DogDoo or ZooDoo would have set him/her back a packet. But twenty bucks, twenty lousy bucks. Did this person expect to be taken seriously?

The True Blue Roo Poo Company was interesting though. Their site kept my partner and I entertained throughout 15 minutes of our regular nightly TV news. The quality was just as good and it was a helluva lot more interesting. While others sat in front of their TV sets watching yet another reprisal killing in the Middle East, and keeping up to date on how Nicole Kidman is coping with her separation; we were educating ourselves on the toilet habits of Australian marsupials.

Until then we didn't know that young Tasmanian devils only relieve themselves 5 times a week or that kangaroos live in such a dry climate that they drain all the moisture out of their feces before evacuating them. Nor were we aware that koala bears evacuated their bowels whilst sleeping and that their turds are torpedo shaped "to stop their buttocks closing with a bang.". There was even a photograph of a copulating kangaroo accepting a viagra tablet from a "trainee roo poo inspector" named Jason. All stirring stuff!

Before I went offline I wound up buying a pair of koala bear poo earrings for the person I suspect sent me the jar of kangaroo poo. The label said "Guaranteed to be absolute s-t or your money back."

The True Blue Roo Poo Company certainly present the most "tasteful" of the poo sites and, speaking now as an art critic, they offer the most visually appealing products. The gilded Tasmanian devil poo paperweights are way past post modernism and wouldn't be out of place at the Guggenheim or the new Tate gallery. I can imagine a whole pyramid of them al la Pompidou Center glinting in the sun outside the offices of Microsoft. What could be more appropriate?

The gilded koala poo earrings slot comfortably into both baroque and rococo periods and would complement perfectly the chandeliers of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg tinkling above the Dutch masters in their hideously overworked gilt frames.

As for the kangaroo poo, I'd let the art students have their way with it but I'd suggest some kind of installation with a marine theme - the piece I threw down the toilet has so far proved unsinkable!

But strange people these Aussies. They were also selling cell phone cases and fanny packs made from Cane Toad leather!!