Home Wildlife Kangaroo Dundee – The Man Saving Orphaned Joeys in the Outback

Kangaroo Dundee – The Man Saving Orphaned Joeys in the Outback

Kangaroo Dundee – The Man Saving Orphaned Joeys in the Outback

In the heart of Australia’s Outback, one man has dedicated his life to rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned kangaroo joeys. Chris “Brolga” Barns, affectionately known as Kangaroo Dundee, has become a local legend for his tireless efforts to save and care for these vulnerable animals. This article explores his incredible journey, the establishment of the Kangaroo Sanctuary, and the impact of his work on wildlife conservation.

The kangaroo: symbol of Australia

This cute and impressive animal is the largest marsupial in the world. The kangaroo is native to the Australian continent, the only place on earth where you will find it in its natural environment. Despite its large population, many of these animals are injured and also killed each year – approximately 3 million die each year. The main reasons for these deaths are slaughter (which is allowed) and road accidents. Chris Barns works to save these animals for whom he has developed a special attachment! He looks after them and takes care of them on a daily basis (feeding, walking, playing and cuddling…). This is his story.

The journey of Kangaroo Dundee

Chris Barns’ journey began in the early 2000s when he left his job as a tour guide to pursue his passion for wildlife conservation. Witnessing the plight of orphaned joeys firsthand, Brolga was moved to take action. He started by caring for injured and orphaned kangaroos in his modest home, using his own resources to feed and nurture them. First, he created a rescue centre for baby kangaroos (2005) and then he built a sanctuary (2011) of almost 80 hectares.

Brolga’s dedication and compassion soon gained attention, and his home became a makeshift sanctuary for these joeys. Realizing the need for a more structured approach, he decided to establish a formal sanctuary where the joeys could live and thrive.

The Kangaroo Sanctuary

Near Alice Springs, Chris ran his own sanctuary (Kangaroo Sanctuary) for a long time, which he built with his own hands almost 20 years ago and financed through odd jobs.

Spanning 188 acres, the sanctuary provides a safe haven for orphaned and injured kangaroos. The sanctuary’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release kangaroos back into the wild whenever possible. For those unable to return to the wild, the sanctuary offers a permanent home.

The sanctuary features spacious enclosures that mimic the natural habitat of the kangaroos, allowing them to roam freely and exhibit natural behaviors. Brolga and his team provide round-the-clock care, ensuring the joeys receive proper nutrition, medical attention, and socialization. This includes six regular milk meals a day, walks in the bush and lots of loving care. The little kangaroos follow Brolga as if he were their mother. He teaches them everything they need to know to live independently in the wild, where he later releases them.

Chris Barnes Brolga, unsung hero, not so unsung…

The BBC-UK approached Brolga in 2011 while he was living in the bush in a tin shack with his kangaroo family. Chris agreed to film a documentary with one sole aim: to raise awareness of the plight of kangaroos orphaned by road accidents. According to the insurance company Budget Direct, kangaroos account for 90% of the animals injured on Australian roads. This is a real phenomenon unique to Australia, a danger for both kangaroos and motorists.

Brolga’s remarkable story and his work at the Kangaroo Sanctuary gained international attention through the BBC documentary series “Kangaroo Dundee.” The series showcased the day-to-day operations of the sanctuary, highlighting Brolga’s deep bond with the joeys and his relentless efforts to ensure their well-being.

Chris Barnes Brolga went from being a hero in the shadows to a hero in the eyes of all, following the programme on the BBC. Broadcast in 2013, the documentary showed the British public and the world the exemplary action of this generous man. By giving Chris a voice and exposing his most modest living conditions, the report moved many. After creating a buzz in the UK with over 1.8 million viewers, Chris also became a star in his own country.

This led to a wave of generosity with many donations made to the shrine and even marriage proposals for Chris! In this article from The Times, Chris explains that his orphaned kangaroos will always be his priority! Since, his living conditions and those of his kangaroos have greatly improved.

The impact on Wildlife Conservation

Kangaroo Dundee’s work has had a profound impact on wildlife conservation in Australia. By rescuing and rehabilitating hundreds of joeys, Brolga has contributed to the preservation of kangaroo populations and the overall biodiversity of the Outback. His efforts have also shed light on the broader issues of habitat destruction, road safety, and the need for greater protection of wildlife.

Furthermore, Brolga’s sanctuary serves as a model for other wildlife rescue organizations. His approach to care, rehabilitation, and public engagement has set a standard for excellence in wildlife conservation.

BBC Natural World documentary excerpts

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

Visit the Alice Springs Kangaroo Sanctuary

Thanks to the BBC programme and the donations generated, the sanctuary has been greatly improved. In 2015 Chris built Central Australia’s first wildlife hospital which provides specialist care for kangaroos. It is a place where many orphaned baby kangaroos are cared for and raised by volunteer carers until they are ready to be released back into the wild. Hundreds of kangaroos have been successfully rehabilitated and released.

Today, you can visit the Alice Springs Kangaroo Sanctuary, which is a 15-minute drive from Alice Springs. As the kangaroos sleep during the day, guided tours are only available in the late afternoon. Tour times vary depending on the month of the year, so be sure to check the schedule before booking. An ideal stop after a day out in the area. Tours last between 2.5 and 3 hours and cost $85 (adult). You can also make a donation or even sponsor a kangaroo to help this great initiative.

For information and to book a visit, visit the website: www.kangaroosanctuary.com

You can also follow the life of the Sanctuary on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

How to support the Kangaroo Sanctuary

Supporting the Kangaroo Sanctuary can take many forms. Here are some ways you can contribute to Brolga’s mission:

  • Donations: Financial contributions help cover the costs of food, medical care, and facility maintenance. Donations can be made directly through the sanctuary’s website.
  • Volunteering: The sanctuary welcomes volunteers who can assist with animal care, maintenance, and educational programs. This is a great way to gain hands-on experience in wildlife conservation.
  • Adopt a Joey: Through the sanctuary’s adoption program, you can symbolically adopt a joey and support its care and rehabilitation. In return, you’ll receive updates and photos of your adopted joey.
  • Spread Awareness: Share Brolga’s story and the sanctuary’s mission on social media, and encourage others to support wildlife conservation efforts.
  • Visit the Sanctuary: Guided tours offer a unique opportunity to see the joeys up close and learn about their care.

Be a hero too

If you are already in Australia and driving on the roads outside the big cities, you will have already noticed that all too often you come across dead kangaroo carcasses on the side of the road. When hit by speeding cars, unfortunately few survive the impact. Moreover, when they are females, the babies in their pouches also die as a result of the impact. However, it sometimes happens that the mother dies from the impact but not the baby joey! In these cases, you must intervene within hours of the accident to give the baby the best chance of survival.

You can collect the joey and take it to the nearest shelter which are found in many parts of Australia. Alternatively, take the joey to your nearest vet as all Australian vets are trained for these situations. This Australian Geographic article details exactly what to do. So the next time you see a kangaroo in a roadside accident, don’t hesitate to stop and check inside its pocket. This also applies to wombats and wallabies.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Arthur Ashe

We also advise to avoid driving at night in Australia, especially on country roads. This is when the kangaroos are out and about, and because of the dim (or no) lighting you may not see them. This is how most accidents happen. Pass this information on to others so that fewer accidents occur.

If you love animals, you can also volunteer at shelters. There are shelters in every state in Australia. You’ll learn a lot and take away some great memories.

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