by Janelle Schroy, Producer, Journey Into Wild
WOODSTOCK WINE ESTATE
We arrive in Australia and head straight to Woodstock to get to know more about Australian wildlife. Having never seen a kangaroo or koala in their habitat before, our kids can’t wait to get up close with them.
This is the wine country of McLaren Vale and Woodstock has been family owned and operated since 1973. The current owner and winemaker, Scott Collett, greets us and invites our children to help him feed and care for the animals in their wildlife center, especially the kangaroo and wallaby family.
The Woodstock Wildlife Sanctuary grew from Scott’s decision to conserve multiple acres of natural scrub on his estate to showcase some of his beloved Australian native animals.
THE WILDLIFE CENTER
“Here we have Eden, Maple, Rawnsely, Prairie, Abraham and Dusty, all of whom are rescued Western Grey Kangaroos,” Scott tells the kids. We learn that there are 50 million kangaroos in Australia. Compare that with the human population here which is 25.6 million!
Scott shares that red kangaroos are the largest of the species, and they can grow up to 6 feet tall and weigh as much as 200 pounds. Kangaroos are marsupials, a type of mammal that carries and raises its young in a pouch.
“Look at that wild koala sleeping up there in the tree. He’s also a marsupial.” Scott tells the girls, pointing up to the great eucalyptus tree beside us. “Those eucalyptus leaves are all he eats.”
KANGAROOS & WALLABIES
A kangaroo comes hopping right up to us, which momentarily frightens Peyton, our 7 year old. She’d never seen the power of a kangaroo’s jump up close!
She quickly recovers and we learn that kangaroos are the only large animals that use hopping as their primary means of movement. They can hop at incredible speeds, reaching up to 40 miles per hour!
“What are the babies called?” Madison (age 11) asks.
Scott smiles and explains that baby kangaroos are called joeys. When they’re born, they’re tiny, blind, and hairless. They crawl into their mother’s pouch to continue growing and developing. Joeys stay in their mother’s pouch for about six months before venturing out but continue to nurse for several more months.
We watch the kangaroos and wallabies with great curiosity as they eat from our hands and let us stroke their chests.
Reagan (age 13) notices how the kangaroos use their strong tails for balance. They are so skilled at balancing that they can stand on their tails and kick with both hind legs!
Kangaroos are herbivores, which means they eat plants. They much on grasses, shrubs, and sometimes even flowers. And the roos’ large, sensitive ears that can rotate independently. This helps them listen for approaching predators from different directions.
Peyton (age 7) notices one kangaroo licking his forearms. We learn that this behavior cools him down since his saliva evaporates quickly which provides a cooling effect he needs since kangaroos don’t sweat.
WILDLIFE CENTERS ARE HEROIC
Wildlife centers like this one are sometimes the only way kids can get up close to animals like this in a safe environment. And because the centers are often rescuing and rehabilitating injured or orphaned animals, kids can see the direct power of conservation efforts and the importance of them protecting natural habitats.
Thank you to Scott and all of you champions of conservation through education. We herald your work and cheer you on!
ACTION POINT: TAKE YOUR KIDS TO VISIT OR VOLUNTEER AT WILDLIFE OR CONSERVATION CENTERS THIS YEAR
I’m delighted to see that my kids’ hands-on experience at this wildlife center creates an instant connection between them and the wildlife. This is the goal!
We want to foster a sense of responsibility for conservation which is the point of our traveling to 14 countries learning about biodiversity and unique biomes in and capturing it to share on Journey Into Wild.
What wildlife centers are near you or where you will be traveling? In what ways can you engage your kids in conservation efforts? Maybe a goal for this year?