Photographer appears to capture moment joey bids farewell to its dying mum.

What are these kangaroos doing?

Some people are saying it is a heartfelt goodbye, but scientists say it’s really about those two basic animal instincts sex and hunger.

Queenslander Evan Switzer was walking his dog on Monday when he came across a remarkable scene.

A female kangaroo in distress, flanked by her joey and a large male kangaroo were gathered together under a mango tree.

“The male kangaroo jumped out to warn off the dog. He then went back to the female and started to pick her up,” Switzer told Mamamia.

Kangaroo goodbye
Picture: Evan Switzer

“Both the buck and the joey were there with her, and I couldn’t get too close.”

Switzer watched on as the mother reached out to her joey, while the male kangaroos held her head in his paws.

“There’s plenty of kangaroos around here and they’re pretty used to humans, but i’m not going to step in while a protective kangaroo is there; he’d rip the crap out of you,” Switzer said.

The seemingly heart-wrenching scene played out on a 40-acre property in River Heads on the Sunshine Coast.

As soon as Switzer realised what was going on, he headed back to his house to grab his camera gear.

Kangaroo goodbye
Picture: Evan Switzer

“I probably sat there for an hour taking pictures, I just thought it was a pretty remarkable thing.”

At one stage the female’s two companions hopped away for a few minutes and Switzer tried to work out what was wrong.

“I checked her pounch to see if there were any other joeys, but when I was checking her I couldn’t see and wounds of any sort on her,” he said.

Switzer was forced to back away again when the male kangaroo returned.

The next day he went back to the trees to see what had become of the female roo.

“She was still there, she was dead, but there weren’t any other kangaroos around.”

He called a friend, and they took her away.

Kangaroo goodbye
Picture: Evan Switzer

In the days since his encounter, Switzer’s remarkable pictures of the farewell between the marsupials has gone viral.

“I am very surprised. I’ve gotten a lot of calls from England, the Netherlands, Germany… All over the place,” he said.

“To me, living here in Australia you see kangaroos all the time. You think they’re just dirty old roos, but this is another side — it’s pretty rare.”

But the Australian Museum is here to burst your bubble.

“Great photos of the kangaroos, but I think they are fundamentally misinterpreted,” Principal Research Scientist Mark Eldridge said.

“The male is clearly highly stressed and agitated, his forearms are very wet from him licking himself to cool down. He is also sexually aroused: the evidence is here sticking out from behind the scrotum (yes in marsupials the penis is located behind the scrotum).”

Okay, but the joey is still sad right?

Well, no.

“The younger individual is probably the female’s last pouch young who may be still suckling,” he said.

I guess that’s what we get for imbuing kangaroos with human emotions.