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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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Woman moves into zoo with her pet kangaroo

So happy together.

Image: ASSOCIATED PRESS

A WOMAN HAS moved into the zoo where she was forced to house her beloved pet kangaroo.

Christie Carr from Oklahoma treats her kangaroo Irwin just like a child–he sleeps in a bed, wears boy’s clothes and eats Twizzlers. But in reality, he’s a red kangaroo, nursed back to health after he was partially paralysed from running into a fence a few years ago.

After spending two years battling a city council in Oklahoma over her right to keep Irwin at home as a ‘therapy kangaroo’, Carr found Irwin a home at an exotic animal park, and in turn, has found some relief from her depression.

The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park got in contact with Carr after they heard of her spats with officials in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Carr’s therapist had certified Irwin as a therapy pet under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but city officials initially feared Irwin could pose a threat to the public’s safety.

They eventually created an exotic animal ordinance exemption that allowed Carr to keep Irwin within city limits under certain conditions and a $50,000 liability insurance policy for any injuries inflicted by the animal. While an anonymous donor paid for Carr’s insurance policy, growing frustration with city officials caused Carr to move to the zoo in March.

Carr says the new home is good for both Irwin and herself as he’s able to interact with other people and animals, while her emotional life is enriched by being around all the animals.

Just me and him together, it’s almost like he was feeding off my depression. He likes people, he likes to be around people and here, there is something always going on.

Carr lives in the staff house of the park, which has close to 800 animals — the majority came from sanctuaries and other zoos — and 18 workers. It’s a place, owner Joe Schreibvogel said, where animals and humans come for a second chance.

Most of the volunteers here are ex-druggies, ex-alcoholics, on prison’s door step. Why do people turn to drugs and alcohol? Usually because they don’t fit in somewhere. Well, here these animals don’t judge you.

Schreibvogel and Carr bonded over the backlash they’ve both received from animal-rights groups. They say it has helped them get to where they are.

Everybody has an opinion, and everybody has a right to an opinion. If they would have euthanised him three years ago, he wouldn’t be walking around, hopping now, so not everyone knows what they are talking about.

Woman moves into zoo with her pet kangaroo
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  • Christie and Irwin

    Christie Carr, Irwin Kangaroo: Christie Carr kisses Irwin the kangaroo at the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park.Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Irwin

    Christie watches Irwin the kangaroo.Source: AP
  • Joe Schreibvogel

    Source: AP
  • Irwin relaxes on his beanie chair

    Source: AP
  • Brother tiger

    Christie Carr, center, attempts to hold Irwin the kangaroo, right, and Larsen, a baby tiger.Source: AP
  • Irwin the Kangaroo

    Christie Carr watches as Irwin the kangaroo hops around an enclosure.Source: AP
  • Christie Carr and Brutus the tiger

    Carr pets Brutus the tiger through the wire of his cage, near the new home she has found for herself and Irwin.Source: AP

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Associated Press

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