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    Photos: Krisanne Johnson

  • November 20, 2002
    Kangaroos Become Passionate Hobby for Business Professor
    By George Mauzy

    Everyone knows what a kangaroo is, but how much do you really know about them? This is a question that Ohio University Instructor of Marketing Larry Rogers and his wife, Tammie, are more than happy to answer for you.

    During the past six years, the couple has kept, rescued and rehabilitated kangaroos at their Lancaster farm and they believe there are many things about Australia's most famous animal that most people don't know. That is one of the reasons they founded the International Kangaroo Society (IKS), a national non-profit organization with a mission of kangaroo conservation through education, research, rehabilitation and rescue.

    Kangaroo kiss One of the myths that Larry dispels is that kangaroos are natural boxers who can punch someone with great force. He says they actually have very little punching power in their arms, but are actually trying to pull you toward them so that they gain enough leverage to kick you while standing on their powerful tail. Other kangaroo facts are only the females have pouches, they can hop as fast as 45 miles per hour, leap 10 feet off the ground and weigh more than 200 pounds.

    "Kangaroos must be kept in a closed area because they are flight animals whose first defense is to run," Larry says. "They also aren't comfortable being touched and handled and can easily drop dead from a heart attack caused by too much stress. These are some of the reasons we don't take them to county fairs or petting zoos, but instead use them to educate people."

    The couple admits that one of the most difficult challenges since becoming macropod owners in 1997 was learning how to properly care for them. Unfortunately, they learned the hard way when their first wallaby, Sidney, died from a hereditary medical condition.

    "My wife and I spent two years searching for health care information about kangaroos and much of the information we found was incorrect," Rogers said. "We also discovered that most veterinarians don't know much about treating them, so the education aspect of kangaroo ownership is one that we have worked extremely hard to improve."

    Now after years of research and learning by trial and error, the Rogers farm serves as the only kangaroo rescue and rehabilitation center in the United States. The couple's budding partnership with the veterinary hospital at Ohio State University has made this possible.

    "Kangaroos are not great pets because they are difficult to keep and susceptible to a multitude of injuries and illnesses," Larry says. "Because of these factors, we do not sell them. However, if someone proves that they are serious about obtaining one, we will work with them."

    The Rogers, who don't have any children, are quick to point out that kangaroos are their children.

    "When the kangaroos are babies, I take them everywhere - church, shopping, concerts, you name it," Tammie says. "When I tell women with children about the amount of time I spend with the baby kangaroos, they often say, 'Baby kangaroos sound like more work than newborns - how do you do it?'"

    After owning an Irish wolfhound, llamas and pygmy goats, Rogers says he and his wife knew from day one that kangaroo ownership was the perfect match for them.

    "Despite the tremendous challenge that caring for kangaroos brings, Tammie and I love them so much," Larry laughs. "They instantly captured our hearts and everyday they remind us how unique God's creation is."


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