There are many theories as to what the Jersey Devil might be. Deep within the Pine Barrens of the 1800's and early 1900's there was not much to do when the farming and chores were complete, except brew and drink moonshine.So between the cranes that were native to the area of the time, the deer in the woods and the circuses that passed through town, what were people seeing that had them convinced that there was a devil in Jersey?
To the Jersey Devil scholar and researcher we are all very well aware of the many fabrications and gaffes that hucksters tried to pass off as our most famous resident. No different than Bigfoot or the Feejee Mermaid, JD has his fair share of (proven) faked stories and sightings.
As we all know, 1909 was dubbed "Phenomenon Week" due to the spike in Jersey Devil sightings. A flap of sightings were reported, tracks were found in the snow and every unknown noise was attributed to good ole' JD himself. Since TV was not around people needed something to occupy their time, so some turned their imagination to the local legend in order to make a buck.
The Capture of the Hodag (obviously fake)
In January 1909 the Jersey Devil was revived by a hoax and displayed in a private museum in Philadelphia, the creature was actually a kangaroo outfitted with fake wings affixed by a harness and painted with green stripes. To make it leap at spectators when the curtain was drawn, a boy hidden at the rear of the cage prodded the unfortunate animal with a stick and a nail attached to it. The showman's name was Jacob Hope (or Norman Jefferies RIP May 25, 1933) and he claimed JD was an Australian Vampire and offered a reward for its capture.
In the 1800's and early 1900's many residents of New Jersey did keep exotic animals as pets and traveling circuses were the norm. So a kangaroo being either kept as a pet (or at a circus) could have possibly escaped and was spotted in the Pine Barrens mistaken for the Jersey Devil. But in my opinion I think you could look at a kangaroo in the dark woods and see a deer due to the very similar facial structure and body type. In modern times, it is "illegal" to have a kangaroo in the state of NJ but you can obtain an exotic pet license and a permit for the kangaroo.
Here is a report of a dead kangaroo found along Raritan Township Road:
Kangaroos in America, this was in Oklahoma and not New Jersey:
Many say that the Jersey Devil's face looks like a horse, moose or deer, so with that you can see how easily a kangaroo could lead to a Jersey Devil sighting.
A rare glimpse of a kangaroo eating a bird:
Kangaroo eating a bird
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(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)