A BBC NATURAL WORLD SPECIAL:
Presented by: Brolga
This hugely entertaining two-part BBC Natural World Special is told by an extraordinary man called Brolga who dedicates his life to saving red kangaroo orphans and returning them to the wild.
A female Red Kangaroo carcass lies dead on the Stuart Highway; the great 1700 mile-long highway that cuts the continent in half and scores through the desolate heart of Australia. Brolga, a six foot seven Aussie who wears a trademark battered cowboy hat and generally has the air of Clint Eastwood about him, walks over to the dead kangaroo and places his hand inside her pouch. Feeling around he pulls out a tiny baby kangaroo, barely moving, but miraculously still alive. Brolga carefully carries the joey back to his outback shack in a pouch fashioned from a pillow case and so begins the heart-warming story of the intimate 'maternal' human-animal bond between Brolga and his orphaned mob of kangaroos and joeys.
Kangaroo joeys need constant 24/7 human care to survive as Brolga knows only too well; he's reared hundreds for release to the wild. He takes them everywhere he goes - to the supermarket and Brolga even sleeps with them in his bed because if they are separated from their 'surrogate mother', the joeys get psychologically distressed. If these impossibly cute creatures are so young that they've yet to grow fur, Brolga places them in care of the 74 year-old retired nurse called Cynthia, or the local dog hairdresser, Anne Marie, both of whom live downtown in Alice Springs. Their houses are over-run with hopping kangaroos, many wearing nappies to avoid making a mess of the carpet! The infant joeys called 'pinkies', are raised in incubators and wrapped in blankets like premature human babies.
Having started out as a zoo-keeper in Sydney, Brolga has grown up with kangaroos. His belly bears two deep scars from a male roo that kick-boxed and sliced him open during his early days training to be a zoo-keeper. Brolga then worked as a nature warden at Kakadu National Park and as a Salt Water Crocodile keeper in the Northern Territories,before finally choosing 'The Alice' as the base for his extraordinary kangaroo endeavor.
Interweaved with the intimate story of raising and releasing orphaned kangaroos is stunning wildlife footage of this strange and enchanting creature - the icon of Australia. In ground-breaking detail, AGB Films have captured the complete kangaroo birth process. Brolga's level of trust with his kangaroos has allowed unprecedented access to film this creature's bizarre and fascinating biology: using macro cameras to film the momentous birth of a kangaroo embryo (the size of a jelly bean) and its epic, gravity-defying struggle from womb to pouch, aged just 33 days. With specially developed camera technology, we have followed the joey's development inside the mother's pouch to the moment (6 months) when the joey, like a jack-in-the-box, first sticks its head out of pouch and takes its first tentative and wobbly hops in the outside world.