The Tale of Irwin Kangaroo -Part 2

Irwin Kangaroo

Written by:
Annette King Tucker
Wild Heart Ranch Wildlife Rescue

The story from my point of view:
What began as a post on Irwin’s facebook page has become a story that is once again circling the globe. So many people have an opinion about this sweet woman and the animal she exists to watch over. I didnt just ‘step up’ to help Christie and Irwin. I have been here all along, watching over them, along with all the people involved with Wild Heart Ranch. Lori Ensign Scroggins, the owner of Safari’s Exotic Sanctuary in Broken Arrow is someone who I called more than a decade ago for help with a cougar cub we took in. She was there for me and that cat in a big way. I knew NOTHING about cougars. She never once discouraged me from any of it. Free advice, help, supplies, food…whatever I needed to care for this cat was there for me. Lori and I have networked to get animals out of bad situations and find them care ever since. She rescues exotics, I rescue wildlife. Between the two of us, there is an answer for nearly everyone.

I first was involved in this story when a baby kangaroo at Safaris hit a fence, fracturing it’s neck. Often Safari’s would bring animal by here when their vet was closed so that I could contact my doctor and get advice for the interim. I stabilized the roo’s neck under the advice of my doctor and told the owner, Kay Williams, who lives and works at Safari’s, that this animal could possibly heal (his spinal chord was still intact) but he would need 24 hour care or they should put him down. He literally would have to be watched and cared for with the same concern as a newborn human infant, keeping his spine straight and his body clean. If they didnt have someone who could handle the job, the kindest thing would be to put him down. All of this was confirmed by my veteranarian, Dr. Lesleigh Cash Warren at Hooves Paws and Claws in Claremore, who took over and provided all of Irwin’s medical care, free of charge. Christie entered the story as the perfect person for the job of tending to Irwin. Christie had recently suffered a stroke followed by a severe case of depression. She was proactive in dealing with her condition and was volunteering at Safaris at the advice of her therapist. All of us animal care folks know that through helping others, we heal ourselves. Christie needed Irwin as much as he needed her. It was obvious to all of us, she had found her calling and her purpose.

Irwin required a TON of care. Initially he wouldn’t eat. Christie was on the phone to me in a panic constantly over his lack of appetite. I could only imagine her kitchen as she tried everything under the sun to get him to eat. Irwin finally decided he would eat peanut butter and cheetos. Not anywhere NEAR a healthy diet for a kangaroo, but we were going to loose him if he didn’t eat. I told her to roll with it. It could have been worse.

Irwin’s appetite improved and expanded as Christie would put peanut butter on everything, and soon got him converted to peanut butter covered kangaroo chow. It was a major victory! He soon no longer required the peanut butter to eat his chow. Irwin was finally eating the things that were good for him and the junk was abandoned. A few cheetos once in awhile for a treat was all that remained of the struggle to get the baby to eat. That hurdle was finally behind them. Irwin would survive.
Irwin slowly regained mobility. He steadily did something new every few days. As long as I saw progress in this animal, I would stand behind them both and protect her desire to help him recover. My doctor agreed. Some of the most impossible injuries just need impossible care. Christie was just one of those people who believed everything we told her, and never questioned the possibility that he could recover. We told her he could heal IF she did the bazillion things every day he required, including physical therapy, watching him closely, turning him at night, never letting him get in a physical position that could hurt him, protecting his spine, etc etc etc. When Irwin broke his leg because of his bones weakening from lack of use, I thought Christie was going to come apart!!! None of us thought about his bones becoming weak. He tried to use his back leg and it snapped. She thought she had done something wrong by not protecting him. After a complex 3 part cast and weeks of protecting that break, Irwin’s leg healed completely. Again, Christie deserved all the credit. With the location of the break and the size of his feet, it was a miracle the set never moved. Today, you cant even find where it was. Christie is a pro, and she has absolutely no clue. She is so humble. Her gifts are amazing. We put Irwin on bone supplements to strengthen him and prepare him for hopping on his own someday. We believed. There was no denying, this was going to happen, and soon.
Irwin progressed to being able to hold himself up in his front end, no longer dependant on being held up to see the world. The little roo was overly sweet from his brain injury. His nature was obviously hampered by the injury. He was up for anything and his friendly, curious personality became a unique experience for those who met Irwin. Irwin LOVED meeting people. He would become active with new people, being curious. Christie decided that Irwin visiting folks in nursing homes would be a way to stimulate the healing kangaroo and do the same for the people who needed a break in the manotony of their lives. To protect him from any germs and keep him warm, she began putting fleece pajamas on him that she sewed to fit Irwin’s oddly shaped body. Irwin would light up at the new textures on his skin, causing him to explore himself, nibbling on the clothes. It encouraged new movement and activity. I told her to go with it. Whatever worked, just like the peanut butter. This baby had to move to heal and recover.

Irwin visiting at a nursing home

Christie loves visiting the nursing homes and Irwin just blossomed! I went with them to a care home in Claremore where my Grandmother lives. The things I saw, I will never forget. It was miraculous the way the residents lit up and came alive, acting young again. Irwin reached for every single one of them. He literaly knew the routine, and no question, he LOVED it. I saw him move and respond more with these people than I had in any other form of his therapy. Christie had found a way to accomplish our goals for Irwin and spread joy to people who needed it the most. I was thrilled. It was beutiful. I began to see this little animal as a gift. He was just amazing.

Of course all good things come to an end when you share your story with the world. A newscast Christie did to announce a fundraiser for us at a local feed store turned into a global story. I couldnt make the early interview at the station without neglecting the animals I had in care. Christie jumped at the chance to help me out. The result was hundreds of phone calls and inquiries to see if Irwin the Kangaroo would be at the fundraiser. I was still very protective of Irwin’s care, but Christie insisted she could protect him. We had a record turn out and raised a few thousand dollars for Wild Heart Ranch, my wildlife rescue…my home. As the footage circled the globe of Christie and her beloved kangaroo, a handful of idiots in Australia decided to make trouble. They contacted the USDA, claiming Wild Heart Ranch was exhibiting a kangaroo illegally. The USDA soon showed up out here and shut us down to public access completely, even though they had discovered before their visit, the kangaroo was never mine.

Christie also came under fire. She was banned from doing anything with Irwin that raised funds for anyone. That was fine with me. Being a wildlife rehabilitator, I rarely exhibit any animals. If that part was important to me, I would rescue a species other than releasable wildlife. We shared our mission with the public sparingly and always had. The loss of our educational programs and spring open house was a harsh blow, but we became very active on Facebook and filmed a series with Ned Bruha for Animal Planet. We have managed, but it has been a struggle. The USDA has been a constant looming force in our lives ever since. Christie tried to appease them to get her permit to raise money, feeling that something she had done had caused this loss for us. I have always told her that she did nothing but try to help and I didnt want her at the mercy of anyone regulating her or Irwin. Money just isnt worth the loss of control, or the hampering of Irwin’s outstanding care. I watched these two be badgered constantly, ridiculed in the media… to some they were a joke, but to those whos lives they touched, they were miracles, mine included.
Christie joined my crew and a dozen other students at my wildlife rehab classes last year. I knew she was talented, but I had no idea. Her gift was realized here. She could make babies eat that wouldnt eat. She was gentle and observant. All her skills that saved the little roo were natural for her. She quickly became one of our crew, the kangaroo hanging out in the clinic, an added bonus.

As time went on, Christie fell under fire by her own community in Broken Arrow. They were trying to decide if an exception could be made for the mother with her odd looking child to stay within the city limits. Irwin being a threat to no one, the challenge was met with much opposition and tons of support for Christie. It wasnt long before the town had their hands full. People in wheel chairs from nursing homes, children with signs all began to protest the City’s decision to make their home uncertain. I stepped back and let Christie handle it. I was dealing with my own USDA nightmare here. I just couldnt take any more abuse. She did an amazing job jumping through hoops, meeting their requirements, pleading her case, begging for mercy. When things settled down, we all assumed, including Christie, that the City had accepted them into their town. Irwin continued to thrive and after all attempts were made for Christie to get her USDA permit and failed, she had finally had enough. She would now stop battling to satisfy those who could not be satisfied. She would live her life caring for her little kangaroo and volunteer at Wild Heart Ranch and visit the places they were welcome, Irwin being a registered therapy animal. Life was good. Everything would be allright.

Last Wednesday the 12th of Jan, 2012, Christie called me when a door hanger was left on her door by Animal Contol, out of the blue, claiming she was in violation of a City ordinance. She was irritated, but assumed it would be like everything else, just someone wanting to cause her trouble, and she would have to explain her situation once again. Her phone call to the animal shelter was not what she expected it to be. The application that she was waiting on that she assumed the City had decided was over the top (I saw the preliminary, unapproved app. Its rediculous) and left it all alone. The animal control officer was informing Christie that Irwin would have to leave the City until the process was completed, and they would have the official application ready for her that day. If they didnt leave town he would be seized. THIS a potentially deadly circumstance for this animal. He panicks in cages. Christie then called me in a panic, frantically packing her car, her plan to get Irwin to safety and deal with the application process from her parent’s home in McAlister. The media had been contacted and were on their way. She didnt want to be held up, but if it would help her, she would do the interviews. None of it set well with me. This sweet woman who had gone above and beyond for the care of one little animal, was being persecuted and terrorized over nothing, once again. This had gone on for a year solid by two different governement entities. Here she was again, the hoops laid out for her to jump through..again…begging for mercy, trying to find a safe place to carry on the obligation she blindly accepted AGAIN. I WAS DONE. I called Christie and told her that enough was enough. They could come here. We would figure it all out and I set out looking for a camper or something to house the pair. Soon, my co founder and fellow wildlife rehabilitator, Ms. Sandy Brooks contacted me offering her farm house and ranch to Christie and Irwin, which we also use as a second facility to care for wildlife. Very private and very safe. It was the perfect solution to get them through winter until spring baby season broke here and I would need Christie’s help with the hundreds of orphans we care for each year. By then we would have them a place of their own, here at Wild Heart Ranch.

Irwin at his new home

That’s where we are today. No big story, no news sensation. Just a feel good tale of the plight of a simple woman caring for her special needs animal of whom she did not breed, purchase or even select. He needed someone and she had nothing better to do. Stepping up to that need gave Christie purpose and healed her broken spirit, and as it did, she healed Irwin’s broken little body. Today he is nearly fully recovered, completely mobile and his paralized, withered little self is just a memory. His brain injury has stunted his growth and kept him gentle, his instincts of being a kangaroo never developing. He isnt quite a roo, isnt quite human. Irwin lives somewhere in between. He is content, healthy and happy and every day, Christie’s life revolves 100% around her charge.

Yes, I’ve heard it all. “Some animals shouldn’t be saved” and all that blah blah blah. I face that every day in my work. Those that cannot be saved and released are humanely euthanized here. I choose death for animals when I see no alternative for a life worth living. Its not something I choose easily, and it always hurts. But also in the course of my sixteen years of caring for animals, I have realized that many injuries that seem impossible, WILL heal with dedicated, proper care. Irwin’s injury was nothing new to me, and it was never impossible to me. He just needed that one person in his life that had nothings else to do but wait on him hand and foot and do every single thing he needed to support his healing. Plenty of professionals have been involved every step of the way. All of them amazed at what Christie and Irwin have accomplished. I am no exception, but for me, watching the two of them work together, impossible has never come to mind. I’ve been in Christie’s shoes and my day is surrounded by my “impossible animals” who were brought here with the label “will not survive”, and they have…because once upon a time, I did little else but care for them.

The only tool I handed to Christie was my belief in the possibility that he could survive and recover with exceptional care, and my own methods of supporting the body while it healed. Christie never questioned, nor did ‘giving up’ ever enter her mind. I believe in the power of good care and the will of an animal to survive and recover. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. No one can tell me otherwise until I see for myself that the progress has ended and the will to live has vanished. Irwin never went there again once he began to eat. Christie gave Irwin that incentive. Born out of his love and trust in her, came his desire to be here. By far his biggest asset is the love he gets every day from this wonderful, selfless woman, Christie Carr, AKA “Irwin’s mom”, her hapily accepted identity. They are both miracles in my life and the lives of countless others. They inspire joy and laughter, and above all, they inspire the hope for a better day with a little support and determination. We should all be so blessed to have the love and dedication of one individual in our lives in this way. I often wonder for the people who bring hatred to the table if their lives are so void of such a bond that they cannot appreciate the beauty and miracle of it, questioning that it could even exist. Of course it does. It is simply called ‘love’. What this woman shares with this little animal is a gift to be revered and protected, not criticized and torn apart. Our world is a battered place. All of us facing obstacles and challenges, many of us suffering and broken, Just as Irwin and Christie once were. They somehow found one another and through that bond, both have grown whole again. And with a little extra love, patience and time, for ourselves and eachother, we all can heal, inside and out. All we need is the belief it can be done and we are well on our way, and when the journey doesnt end they way we envision, look at the love we spread, the hope we cultivated and the joy we left behind. Angels often walk (or hop) among us and heroes are not always defined by the challenges they overcome, but by the attitude in which they face them. Christie and Irwin need a world where challenges do not rise to meet them. They have had far more than their share. Its time for peace. Thanks for reading.

Irwin's 'Hoppy" ending

Annette King Tucker
Wild Heart Ranch Wildlife Rescue

~ by topcatsroar on January 18, 2012.

5 Responses to “The Tale of Irwin Kangaroo -Part 2”

  1. Annette Tucker is a true animal warrior and now one of my heroes!!!

  2. Once again, Annette has so beautifully and eloquently written about Christie and Irwin! Annette, you ARE an angel <3

  3. OMG…sitting here crying…what idiots we have in power & where are you & how can we help??

    • I will pass your information and comment to Irwin. Please follow the blog because many animals in the US are in danger and your attention to the Action Alerts will help!!! It’s no so difficult to send your message in every state and frankly, they want to hear from you!!! Important to animals and their owners. Best -B

  4. Irwin & Christie are a remarkable pair. Every so often, for no way to explain, a human & an animal are placed together, a pair meant to be. They are like 2 souls who were meant to become one giant soul. Irwin & Christie are that giant soul. They were meant to be together. They are together. No outsider can or could tell them to separate. That wasn’t how it was meant to be. They need to be together, forever, without intrusion. It’s a shame that some people hate so much, they have allowed it to take over every aspect of their life. Their hatred colors their views of others & can only be happy when they make others feel as hurt as they do. They are people who are just shells of a life as hatred, anger, has eaten the rest of them. I pity them. I pity their darkened world. I pity their pain of hatred. I pity them for not seeing the beauty, the simple gentleness of love as they can;t love. Irwin & Christie, may you have a long, happy journey together.

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