Chris Barns is a dad to 230. And a mom. And, most important, a savior.
Brolga, as he’s known, rescues baby kangaroos, or joeys, raising them at the Kangaroo Sanctuary Alice Springs.
After rescuing an orphaned joey in 2005, he quit his job to care for the kangaroo and help similar orphaned kangaroos. That project has grown into a 90-acre wildlife reserve whose mission is to nurture orphaned kangaroos and educate visitors about caring for these animals.
To that end, he guides sunset tours that introduce guests (by name, of course) to his charges, and he gives them an opportunity to hold a baby kangaroo — usually in a pillowcase, which comforts the babies, he said in an email.
The pillowcase imitates "the security of being in a pouch,” he said. “They are very relaxed and happy in their pouches, particularly when they are younger. And it is very good for a baby kangaroo to be held and feel the breathing and warmth of your stomach."
The star attraction at the sanctuary is Roger, a kangaroo Barns saved in 2006. "I rescued him from his dead mother's pouch – she was hit by a car,” Burns said.
“Roger was about 4 months old, hairless and tiny," Barns said.
Now Roger is a 6-foot-7, 200-pound alpha male at the reserve.
"Roger’s natural instincts are to fight any other male ‘roo or human he sees as competition,” Burns said. “And he shows his strength by crushing items such as buckets."
Roger’s other hobbies include kickboxing and chasing Barns.
Visitors can take guided tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays. It costs $85 per adult and $45 per child. The Kangaroo Sanctuary Alice Springs is in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel