In Alice Springs, we had an amazing experience — cuddling orphaned baby kangaroos.
Kangaroos are very common in Australia, and are often hit by cars. Many people don’t realize that the joey can still be alive in the pouch after the kangaroo is hit. This organization urges people to check the pouches of dead kangaroos hit by cars, and to rescue any live joeys. The joeys aren’t dangerous at all, and won’t bite. So, on the off chance that you find an orphaned joey, put it in your lap, or under your shirt while you’re driving, and call the Kangaroo Rescue Center for pickup.
The joeys we held were adorable, with their over-sized eyes and ears. They licked our noses as we held them in simulated pouches, spindly legs and tail sticking out. Their tails were velvety and squishy. One of the caretakers bottle-fed the ‘roos, and another held a "pinky," a young joey with no hair. At one point, it was time for the ‘roos to exercise — to jump around outside the pouches for a few minutes. The whole experience was just amazing, and I got my cuddly animal fix.
Alice Springs itself was great, and we wished we had more time. It felt a like a smaller, less frequented Boulder, Colorado in some ways. The population is only 27,000, but it feels somewhat cosmopolitan, as people are always coming and going. The food was good too.
And the Alice Springs Desert Park was wonderful. It’s mostly an outdoor experience, where you walk through the bush and see some of the local flora and fauna. Lots of animals have highly specialized adaptations for the extreme desert climate. For example, there are frogs and fish that can survive in damp areas underground for years, until a rainfall.
We hadn’t realized how big cockatoos are. We finally saw a Thorny Devil, as our group hadn’t found one in the wild.
The nocturnal exhibit, with mysterious small marsupials, toads, bats and snakes. And the real highlight was an open air birds of prey show, featuring large hawks and eagles. In an unscripted moment, two of the park’s giant Wedgetail Eagles fought with an eagle from outside the park.
The prehistoric-looking Goliath Stick Insect was literally bigger than my hand! You are looking at a foot-long bug.
We also enjoyed the Aboriginal art galleries in Alice, and bought a painting. Some of the motifs are really wonderful, and I’m surprised they don’t have wider exposure in the U.S.