You’re opening a low fence that leads to an open field, the air is crisp and horror film silence surrounds you.  You hear the patter of feet? Heavy raindrops hit your face and what you hear is actually the start of a horrendous downpour.  You dash to the nearest tree, that’s when you notice them. 

Dozens of kangaroos are huddled together under a covered barn only a few yards from your tree, and they are all staring at you, silent; at least 40 eyes, at least 20 kangaroos.  As you quietly stare back at them, unsure exactly what your next step should be, you shove your hands in your pockets. That’s when you realize it. 

You have two bags of kangaroo food stuffed your pockets. You once again stare back at the kangaroos. Warnings about how dangerous they are dart through your mind, but you’ve never actually thought those stories were true. They look so friendly, so cuddly, and so cute, just like out of a picture book of ‘The Down Under’, but they are staring at you…curious as you pull out a handful of feed.  That’s when you know. 

You’re at Parndana Wildlife Park on Kangaroo Island, just off the Southern coast of Australia. Fitting that the island is named after these beautiful and curious animals, as you have seen them in the fields and woods as you drove around the island. These kangaroos, that are now beginning to bridge the distance between your pockets and their stomachs, are at Parndana because they were sick, injured or needed help in the wild. They are very familiar with people, housebroken almost, and eager to meet you. 

This park provides a more secluded interaction than most other Australian kangaroo-petting parks.  These animals aren’t blaze to human interaction and have become accustomed to the presence of people. Like yourself. 

Finally, putting a small amount of food into your hand, you lower it down to allow them to eat. Seconds after a couple of them get their first bite, dozens more start crowding around you; several even paw at your arm, wanting more of your attention, more of the food. They arch their heads back as you rub their necks and they slowly close their eyes as you can tell they love every second.  That’s when it hits you. 

At this moment, the only thing that matters is the friendly and attention starved kangaroo that has won over your heart.  Not sure who is smiling more, you or the kangaroos, your friends snap photos of you in true bliss. Long forgotten are the 9-5 meetings, conference calls and spreadsheets. You are living in the moment, unaware of what is going to happen five minutes from now, let alone five days from now.  That’s the greatest part of Parndana Wildlife Park, since it is a working rescue, the animals are just as glad to be there as you.