Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kangaroo Conservation Center in North Georgia

Kangaroos are not native to Georgia. I suspect you knew that kangaroos are not native to Georgia, but several live here and are now born here. Four days ago we went to visit them. We drove 1 ½ hours north to the picturesque foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains where we found the Kangaroo Conservation Center (KCC). There, in Dawsonville (Ga.) the center has assembled the largest collection of kangaroos outside of Australia. The center is located on 87 beautifully landscaped acres with a lake and rolling hills. (Click on all the pictures to enlarge them.)

We felt like we were in an “Aussie Adventure” as the leaflet advertised, as we walked to the Billabong (watering hole) which is a walk-through exhibit of Australian birds, reptiles, and plants. First we met a Blue-crowned Pigeon on the path – native to New Guinea it is the largest species of pigeon in the world.

Then we gave the right of way to a Buff-banded Rail who was on its way to the watering hole.

Before we left we passed two Australian reptiles that did not even bother to look at us – or to run away.

Walking back to the KangaRanger area to take our guided tram ride, we passed the butterfly garden.

Our guide gave us many facts about the kangaroos that we did not know. The ride took a half hour and she did not stop speaking, but I’ll try to be brief. Like the koalas, wombats and possums the kangaroos are marsupials from the macropod (large foot) family. Between Australia and New Guinea there are 83 species of macropods of which 9 have become extinct since European settlement and 28 are now threatened - 1/3 could be gone in the coming years. The name kangaroo comes from the Aboriginal word gangurru which describes the Grey Kangaroo.

Our guide told us that the male kangaroo is called a buck , the female a doe and the baby kangaroo a joey. Kangaroos are very social and like to live in a group which is called a “mob”. The female can have three babies at the same time: an embryo awaiting birth, a young one in the pouch attached to a teat and an older joey living outside her pouch but still dependent on her milk. I did not know that she could halt the birth of an embryo, or freeze its development during a period of drought or until the previous joey is ready to leave the pouch. Other interesting facts are that her teats will stretch to fit each individual joey and she can produce different kind of milk simultaneously to feed the older joey and the newborn – a newborn joey is the size of a lima bean.

The KCC has different species of kangaroos, actually 12 different species, and has been raising them for 26 years. They range from the tiniest brush-tail bettong to the 190 pound Red Kangaroo. I could not take a picture of the small bettong as it was asleep in his nest, but here is a picture from the KCC.

Our guide knew each one by their name but it’s hard for me to distinguish the species, so I’ll just show you the pictures I took. We walked on the ¼ mile path “Aussie Walkabout” and saw quite a few animals, most of them resting in the warm sun. The animals are meticulously cared for as well as the grounds and it was a very enjoyable walk. (Don't forget to click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Kangaroos are the only large animals to use hopping to move about and they move their back legs together, not one at a time. When they move slowly, though, they can use their tail as an extra leg or use it when standing as a means of support. They can reach speeds of 40 MPH (between 60 and 70 km/h.)

The kangaroo is a national symbol for Australia and has been important in the Aborigine culture. Below is a picture of a painting called “Kangaroo Spirit” by Edward Blitner, who is an Australian Aborigine painter from the Naiyarlindji country (top end of Australia.) . The kangaroo has spiritual significance for the Aboriginal people as it is associated with many of their “dreamtime” stories. They believe in parallel time, one being the daily time and the other an infinite spiritual time called “dreamtime” – land, people and animals are all connected as is the past to the present.

As we were leaving we walked close to the Australian Bird Aviary. The Rose Breasted Cockatoo flew over so we could admire him.

Next, we stopped at the Blue-winged Kookaburras. I started to whistle a little tune and the female (?) came closer to listen to me

Then she called out to her mate to come out and listen to the weird whistling lady

… and sure enough we saw the other kookaburra’s head coming to have a look

A deer was eating grass close to the picnic area

then came closer to us and he let me pet him.

If you would like to learn more about the history of the KCC center, please click on their web site here then click on “Our History.”

While researching kangaroo facts I found out that they are being killed in Australia and turned into pet food and leather for sport shoes. There is more information on the site “Save the Kangaroo” sponsored by Sir Paul McCartney. There is also a petition site for saving the kangaroos, click here.


DJan said...

Wow! What a wonderful adventure and to have it so close by! A mob of kangaroos, huh? The butterfly and the birds are wonderful too! These pictures and the story make me sad for the ones that are not in this sanctuary. Are they endangered at all in Australia, I wonder? No one will take care of them until they are.

But now I know more about them than I ever hoped to know, thanks to this well documented trip. Thanks!!

Elaine said...

What an enjoyable excursion you took us on today. It seems a bit strange to have a kangaroo sanctuary in the U.S. but it sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Your photos are lovely, but I must admit I missed seeing one of your postcards. None of kangaroos, huh? I love the photo of Mr. Kookaburra's head poking out of the box and the kookaburra sequence of photos. Thanks for the trip!

Pondside said...

Imagine - a little bit of Australia in the deep south. When I saw your photo of the Kookaburra I couldn't help but remember the 'round' we used to sing in elementary school "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. Merry merry king of the woods is he. Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra. Gay your life must be. Ha Ha Ha"
You certainly have lots of interesting places to visit in your part of the world - I enjoyed the tour of Cheatham Hill. I visited Georgia several times in the 70's and still have family in the state.

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Hello from Africa ! ***

Que de belles photos !!!!!
Cette faune et cette flore c'est MAGNIFIQUE !!! Merci de nous montrer et de nous expliquer tout cela ! C'est très interessant ! :-)



Fennie said...

Vagabonde - that is a truly lovely blog and so interesting. I had no idea the kangaroos (what a musical word!) were under threat. I've always wanted to know what they eat. How can they get all that energy from grazing on some scrubby bush plants. I imagine Georgia to be a lush place, gorgeous to live in. Is it hot? Thanks for a really entertaining read.

Pietro Brosio said...

What a nice and informative post, Vagabonde. Very interesting the text and the images are all so attractive. About kangaroos, I'm always amazed that a baby of kangaroo can be held in a coffee spoon!
About my post, the pictures were taken in the Val di Susa (Susa Valley), early in the morning, in a cloudy day.
Have a great week! :-)

Marguerite said...

Fabulous post and so educational! I really enjoyed learning about the kangaroos and how adaptable the mothers are. And your photos are excellent and I especially liked the one of you! Such a beautiful place, filled with life.

BJM said...

I particularly enjoyed the photo of the blue pigeon. Quite a plumage!

Darlene said...

I just love your post. It is always so informative and interesting. Your photos are always excellent. I appreciate the time and effort you put into making your post a trip to another fascinating place.

I am glad you live in the heart of such historic country and with such great places to visit so we can see them through your post.

christina said...

beautiful photos! I love the kookaburra's reaction to your whistling!

Carolyn said...

Thank you for this great excursion and adventure and for the information. Your photos are beautiful. Have a great week and thanks for stopping by.

Ratty said...

Wow! Such a great place! I love kangaroos, so thanks for all of the wonderful information about them. That blue pigeon is beautiful. Your pictures are all just amazing.

claude said...

J'ai vu une fois un reportage à la télé sur le massacre des kangorous en Austraie, car il y en a de trop. C'est horrible. Ceux- là sont bien heureux où il sont.
J'aime bien celui qui a son petit dans sa poche.
C'est une belle visite animalière que je viens de faire.
Concernant mes torchons franco-américains et à ta proposition.
Je suis descendue dans ma cuisine chercher le premier torchon que JUlia m'avait envoyé pour un Noël.
Il représente d'un orchestre de Nounours. Couleurs dominantes, celles de Noëml, le rouge et le vert. l'attache au crochet est fait avec une lainé chiné blanc, rouge, verte avec un filet doré et le bouton est un grelot. Au-dessus des nounours il y a des petits coeurs rouge avec des feuilles vertes. Je ne m'en suis jamais servi pour ne pas l'abimer mais l'accroche à la porte de mon four pour chaque Noël.
Si tu souhaite m'en envoyer un autre, je ne dis pas non.
Alors comme cela en octobre tu es à Paris, t'en as de la chance !
C'est ma ville et elle me manque.

Friko said...

You've done it again, Vagabonde.
What I'd like to know is how do you know the names of all the birds and animals (not the 'roos, of course). How much time does it take you to gather all your information?
Your blog is truly worth following.

Celeste Maia said...

Another fantastic entry, Vagabonde. I always learn so much from your blog. How clever and efficient the kangaroo bodies are, and those birds and the butterfly were gorgeous, and all the fascinating information you gave us. Yours is a life lived at a perfect pitch!

Virginia said...

Kangaroos in Georgia? Well hush my mouth!!!

I am thrilled my Paris photos are bringing you sweet memories of home. I wish we lived closer and you could help me with my French which is trés terrible!! I try so hard but this southern accent doesnt' help. My friend Peter in Paris, is a dear to do my translating for me but we both agree that 's not helping me improve. I rely on lots of smiles and sign language when my French escapes me.

I'm always curious as to how you found my blog? Ihave a B'ham Alabama Daily Photo blog as well if you are looking for local photos!

Unseen India Tours said...

Beautiful location with lovely creatures in it...I really enjoyed this post..Would love to see more..Unseen Rajasthan

Karen said...

What a wonderful post. I just discovered your blog because of your post on Virginia's. I'm another one who love France and especially Paris. I went last December and am going in October for a month. I am trying to learn French on my own and at my age the brain rebels but I'm determined.

I have a friend from Australia and they just returned from a 3 week stay there. It's a place I want to see someday but may have to settle for driving up to north Georgia to visit this delightful place you've shown us.

Karen said...

Hi again. Thanks for telling me about the theatre and the show you will be seeing. I'll check it out. A friend from London is joining me Oct 8th and we have tickets to Mozart Le Rock Opera at the Palais du Sports, a new larger arena and then on the 30th we are going to see Zorro the musical at a smaller theatre near Pigalle, I think. My friend booked the tickets for us.
Countdown: 7 weeks until Paris..

Nathan said...

Thanks for your recent comments on my blog. I enjoyed looking at these pictures here. That blue crowned pigeon is pretty amazing. Almost hypnotic.


Vagabonde said...

DJan - I am pleased you enjoyed the post. I don’t think the kangaroos are endangered right now apart from the tiny betton, but they are killed just like the buffalos were here at the turn of the 20th century, so the kangaroos might go the same way.

Elaine, Pondside, Pietro, Marguerite, BJM, Darlene, Christina, Carolyn, Ratty, Friko, Celeste Maia, Virginia, Unseen Rajasthan, Karen, Nathan - thank you all so much for you kind comments. I had so much fun at the Kangaroo Conservation Center that I am pleased you enjoyed visiting it with me. I hope you will come back to my blog.

Fennie – Thanks for visiting. You asked if Georgia is a lush place – well North Georgia is mountainous and very green, but the central part of Georgia is quite flat. There are many lakes in Georgia and it is very warm. It is quite lush on the coast, like in Savannah, near the Florida border.

Claude – merci de ta visite. Je prendrai note pour le torchon. Merci aussi pour tous tes gentils commentaires.

Nancy - Toi aussi Nancy je te remercie pour ta visite. Tu pourras peut-être nous faire voir quels animaux tu vois dans tes parages.

Carol said...

Thanks for stopping by. That blue pidgeon is spectacular!!

Carol said...

The Butterfly resembles our black form of the Tiger Swallowtail. I took a picture of one in KY a few weeks ago. I'll try to post it shortly.

Anonymous said...

We at the Kangaroo Conservation Center appreciate your kind comments about our facility. We work hard to make it as beautiful for the visitors as it is for the animals.

Baino said...

Hey! Small world. Darlene comments on your blog and one I visit every day! Lovely that you have the opportunity to see our weird wildlife. I have no kangaroos near me but that lizard lazing on a branch and those pretty pink and grey Galah's are frequent visitors. I can see two of those parrots munching grass seeds right now! Loving your blog and that you writ with ever such a slight accent. Kangaroo is actually also very good eating. Frankly, kangaroos are so plentiful that they don't need protecting. Poor Sir Paul doesn't have his facts right. They might be pretty but they are very prolific in rural areas. We should be farming them and getting rid of ecologically damaging beef!

TorAa said...

Breathtaking photos. So warm and charming.
And I've learned there is more to Georgia and the Apalachies than I've ever imagined

✿France✿ said...

Bonjour quel bonheur encore d'observer ces animaux chez vous. Superbe

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