ARCHIE, our hand-raised Joey

Archie, pictured with Roley owned by Selina Matthews.


I guess not everyone has the privilege of raising a baby Kangaroo, and believe me, it is a privilege! When Archie joined us as a tiny hairless baby whose mother had been killed, I stared at this incredible little being that barely fit in my hand, and wondered if we could keep him alive. Fortunately I had the wonderful help of dear friends of ours in Alice Springs - the Bryan family, Denise & Ross and their daughter Selena, who gave us all the support and advice we needed.

Archie was raised inside our home, bottle fed hourly (by me I might add!) and spent most of his time in designer pouches that I made, or had made for him. He was with us at all times, as you can well imagine, and went to work at the airport every day at Alice Springs in the red centre of Australia.. It was here that he became probably the most photographed Joey in the world. The tourists were just fascinated by this real live friendly baby Kangaroo being bottle fed and trained to go toilet on the grass, and he became quite an attraction. At times it became quite a hassle just to get him outside - the walls of Japanese tourists were difficult to bypass.


Archie sunbaking in the back yard in Alice Springs Archie playing in the back yard in Alice Springs Archie resting in the back yard in Alice Springs

I was amazed at how clean baby roo's are! Archie preferred to go outside to "empty out", rather than do it in his sleeping pouch. As he grew, he would crawl out of his pouch at times and explore the house, sometimes heading all the way upstairs where he would have a great time bouncing up and down on the king sized bed, the dressing tables and even the bath! It was almost like a game. Maurie and I went away on a holiday once and Archie went off to spend the time with my girlfriend Selena who was well experienced in animal care, having a father (Ross Bryan) who was Head Ranger, and her mother Denise Bryan, well known for her wildlife orphans. Archie fretted badly and made himself very ill. It was some time after we returned before we got everything back to normal again. I really thought he was going to die.

Archie introducing himself to a souvenir at Alice Springs aiportCare has to be taken with yourself around native animals! I was caring for three orphaned roo's at one time and although I am extremely fanatical about hygiene and take great care to sterilize everything and wash my hands and clothes, I somehow managed to contract salmonella from one of these babies and was hospitalised for a few weeks. This time it was nearly me who died! Only one of these babies went on to live a healthy life back in the wild. It can be heart-breaking at times when you put so much effort into giving the native animals the chance in life they're entitled to, but the ones that do survive give you a great feeling of love and satisfaction.

Archie, the big red roo!Archie grew to be a robust red male standing way taller than me, and when he began pulling the clothes off the line it was time for him to move out of our home, into a compound, and eventually returned to the wild. He went into a local tourist park operated by a five-star hotel. Maurie used to go every afternoon to visit Archie at the park and feed him his ration of chopped vegetables and treats that he loved. The sad day came when we were advised that a pack of camp dogs had broken into the compound and attacked Archie and other roo's. In his terror, and in an effort to escape the dogs, Archie ran head first into a steel pole. Archie died. He was buried on the hotel grounds. It took many months before Maurie could even look at a photo of Archie. He was totally devastated. His love for that roo was so intense, and absolutely reciprocated. For all the hours that I spent raising Archie, it was Maurie that he truly cared about and seemed quite indifferent towards me as he got older, which hurt (not only my ego).

We have cared for other baby roo's on a few occasions, getting them established before they went on to foster homes, but none ever took the place of Archie.

Archie - you were one of the loves of our lives. May you be happy, bounding across the fields at Rainbows Bridge.


Stumpy, the roo with an artificial hind leg!
Stumpy, the roo with an artificial hind leg!

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