The Kangaroo Whisperer

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on August 13, 2010

Join ALDF Founder & General Counsel Joyce Tischler as she tours
Australia with Voiceless, the animal protection institute, for the 2010 Animal Law Lecture Series.

I want to introduce you to some very special beings. One is Marilyn Mills, who runs a sanctuary for kangaroos. The other special beings are the kangaroos she works so hard to protect. Marilyn approached me after one of my talks and began to describe the kangaroos she has raised and released. They come “home” to her frequently and I could have listened to her stories for many hours. I asked her to send me some photos of the kangaroos or “roos” and the photos she sent take my breath away. Take a look:

Gadriel and her joey

Marilyn with Rachel and Gadriel
Marilyn with Rachel and Gadriel

Gadriel with her joey and two orphaned joeys

Marilyn with a baby kangaroo
Marilyn reads as a baby kangaroo naps on her chest


A joey with a dummy (a.k.a. a pacifier)
A joey with a dummy (a.k.a. a pacifier)

Marilyn and Morgan give each other a hug
Marilyn and Morgan give each other a hug

Marilyn and Morgan
Marilyn and Morgan

Kangaroos are highly social animals. They live in groups of three or more that are called “mobs.” (Hmmm; that might be an appropriate term to apply to a group of lawyers!) The mob can have 50 or more members and the members protect each other from external dangers. I have always been fascinated by the birth and development of young kangaroos. The female usually gives birth to one baby, called a “joey” annually. At birth, the joey is about the size of a finger and hairless, so tiny that the mother would risk harming the baby if she touched him. The joey climbs up his mother’s belly and into her pouch. There, he attaches to a teat for milk and remains in the pouch feeding for nine months. After that, the joey will begin to leave the pouch for increasing periods of time, but will return to feed, until he no longer needs his mother’s milk.

Marilyn shared the following story with me and I want to share this with you:

“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to closely study the mob which reside on my sanctuary. Another opportunity I have is to closely study a mother raise her joey – Gadriel (the kangaroo you saw in the picture which the BIG pouch) came to me at six months old with severe injuries and I eventually had to have her right toe amputated at the second phalanges. She adapted to the missing toe and I released her. The problem is that when she has a joey in her pouch her hopping becomes difficult so she comes home every year to raise her joey, she just turns up when it gets too difficult to hop and sets herself up in one of the enclosures, then when the joey is fully out of pouch & she has a bit of a rest, about 12 months later, she stands at the gate till I let her out. So far she has raised two joeys at home, I expect her to move back in later this year. The other good thing is that I introduce my orphans to Gadriel and I raise them with her, they play with her joey and when I release Gadriel she takes my orphans with her. The picture shows two joeys laying behind Gadriel – they are two of my orphans. Having Gadriel home actually makes my life a lot easier as the orphans have a REAL role model.”

Australia annually slaughters approximately 4 million adult kangaroos and 440,000 joeys, so someone with a heart as big at Marilyn’s is an absolute blessing and more people like her are needed here. If you’d like to learn more about the plight of kangaroos and what you can do to speak up for them, please check the Voiceless website.

My Australian adventure continues…

Related blog posts:
Hello from Sydney, Australia
Welcome to Australia, Joyce!
Factory Farming in Australia
The Plight of Kangaroos in Australia
Animal Law in Australia
Speaking Australian
Live Animal Exports
Live Animal Exports – Part 2
A Visit With Kangaroos
The Future of Animal Law in Australia

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