Not Your Ordinary Nanny
Every now and then we discover an organization or person who is doing something amazing for the area of the world that they live in. Jennifer Ridolfi is one of those people. In Mareeba, Australia, about an hour inland from the reef access town of Cairns, Jennifer runs the Jowajilla Wildlife Refuge. The refuge takes in orphaned kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies that are often found by locals and tourists in the area after their mothers are killed, most frequently in road accidents. Depending on their age, most of the joeys stay at the refuge for about a year, until they can be released back into the wild.
There are no visitors accepted here, because this is also Jennifer’s home. She pays for all the special kangaroo milk, sews every mock marsupial pouch, and even brings the littlest members of the mob along to work with her. The only way you can get into this Aussie family? Volunteer as a kangaroo nanny.
Nannies at Jowajilla are responsible for all the joeys on site while Jennifer is away. Duties may include being jumped like a hurdle, helping roos into their pouches, bottle feeding some very hairy babies, and scratching a lot of grateful bellies. Sure, there are a lot of places in Australia where you can see kangaroos up close, and even feed and pet them. But it’s an entirely different experience to bond with them over the longer term, learning all of their nuanced little personalities. For the animal lover, I can think of no more delightfully Australian experience.
Amy Smithers‘ heart split into several pieces when a baby wallaroo first held her hand while bottle feeding. Luckily she had travel medical insurance. You can apply to volunteer at Jowajilla yourself through helpx.net.