As Roly becomes a well adjusted member of the Roo Gully mob we look back on his early life with us,
and we realise it really has been crazy sharing our home with Roly!

Roly arrived to live at Roo Gully on the 11th January 2003.

He was to become our little 'healer' arriving at a time we really needed healing,
and later he was to become Jessica's little 'healer' too.

Roly unfurred
Roly Handsome
Roly Looks

Roly's mother was killed in a road accident on Christmas Day 2002.
Thankfully he was rescued by a passing motorist who stopped and checked his mother's pouch.
Because we were very busy caring for many other young joeys Roly
went to live with another wildlife carer in a neighbouring town.

Then, at the beginning of 2003, disaster struck.
Two young kangaroos were killed at Roo Gully. We were devastated.


Freckle and Stuey died within three days of each other, and the bottom seemed to fall out of our world. Before they came to Roo Gully, both were cases of neglect, and close to dying, but with the help of volunteers we worked hard to save their lives and succeeded in giving them the chance of a healthy, happy life.

Tragically both lives were cut short; Freckle in an accident, Stuey killed by a fox.

We plunged to despair during that week, our hearts feeling empty, then we remembered the little unfurred joey who had been orphaned on Christmas Day. One phone call to his very understanding carer and Roly was on his way to Roo Gully.
He weighed under 1 kilo, and did not have any fur.
Roly arrives
It was not difficult for us to fall deeply in love with little Roly, and his cuddles helped heal our grief.
He had been well cared for by the other wildlife carer and he fed well.
But once again we had to get used to feeding a young joey every 4 hours. And sleeping with a little boy, who like most joeys, preferred to wriggle out of his pouch and snuggle up to us during the night, skin to skin.

Roly Carol in bed
Unfurred joeys seem to be all legs and tail, with wrinkly skin and big eyes.
They can never honestly be described as beautiful.
Roly markings

But as Roly's skin pigment changed we became aware he was going to have unique markings, and as his fur grew we could clearly see he was going to become a very handsome young joey indeed.

However what we did not realise at the time was that Roly was going to know he was a very handsome young boy!

Roly has become a favourite of many of the volunteers.
The day Jessica, a student from the UK, arrived Roly was at the veterinary hospital.

He suffered from a serious stomach problem, which was very painful for him and worrying for us.
Roly received lots of cuddles from Jessica and she quickly fell in love with him, and she also fell deeply in love with another young joey, named Gnasher. Every evening Jessica cuddled her two babies on the couch as they watched TV together.
Jess Gnasher and Roly
Jess with Gnasher
Gnasher was older, so while Roly snuggled up in his pouch Jessica spent many hours patiently building Gnasher's confidence, and we quickly realised that they were forming a special bond.
The first kangaroo you fall in love with always holds a special place in your heart,
and so our hearts went out to Jessica when Gnasher suddenly died.
Jess with Roly
Once again Roly was to become a little 'healer', and he helped Jessica come to terms with her loss.

Roly was a loving little joey and, as we all found out, a comical little boy too!
Once again he made us smile when we all needed it the most.
He not only brought love into our home and lives but lots of laughter too.

Roly scratches by fridge
Roly attention
Roly scratches bedroom

Roly could never replace Freckle, Stuey or Gnasher.
Like humans, each kangaroo is an individual with its own likes and dislikes,
and each one is known and loved because it is who it is.
We never forget those that have touched our hearts,
but we are always grateful for those who become our healers - like Roly.

We have raised many joeys but none have proved to be as challenging as Roly!
Vets told us there was no cure for his stomach problem.
All we could do was sedate him during these painful episodes and gently massage his stomach.
We just hoped he would grow out of it, and eventually he seemed to,
but Roly was a walking disaster and he had an uncanny knack of making sure we had more sleepless nights.

Roly plaster cast

Two days after Jessica left us, to travel around Australia, Roly went out walking down by the creek. A typical show off, he decided to show how fast he could run. He jumped into the air, spun around, and as his feet hit the ground to take off at full speed there was an almighty CRACK!
Roly had broken his leg!
We could not believe it. Off he went to the veterinary hospital
for more X rays - and surgery.
Roly recovered but he remained a very clingy little boy, needing constant reassurance and love.
Maybe this was because he was born in June,
outside what is commonly thought to be the breeding season for Western Grey kangaroos.
This meant for many months he was an only joey, and he became very defendant on us.
In fact it was almost as if he thought himself to be a human and not a kangaroo.
And because he had no joey friends he found it difficult to join the mob.
He loved his life inside the house and trying to persuade him that he really was a young kangaroo and should be living with the other roos became a prolonged and frustrating process.
Roly laid back
Roly Unsure
Every morning we took him down to the creek
and tried to get him to stay with the older roos.
But he would take one nervous look at the mob.
Roly nervous
And then ask if he could come back home.
Roly loving
Of course in the beginning we had to allow this.
How could we refuse him?
Joining the mob is a huge step for any young joey,
and we were also swayed when Roly made it obvious how much he enjoyed his home comforts!
Roly comfortable
But Roly had to join the mob, so day after day we persevered.
We took him into the bush and then tried to sneak home - alone!
Roly wary
It was while we were hiding behind the trees that we witnessed how nervous Roly was with the other roos.
And we understood the reason why he was always hard on our heels,
barking at the door to come inside shortly after we arrived home.
Then, thankfully, Bron took pity on us and decided to lend a hand. Bron is our kindergarten teacher. She takes all the young orphaned joeys under her wing when it is time for them to join the mob, and she helps them with this difficult transition.
In Roly's case we were extremely delighted to have her help!
Roly meets Bron
And, eventually, the day finally came when he was happy to be a kangaroo, and outside with the mob.
After all the problems, all the worry, and all the sleepless nights,
we knew Roly was becoming a huge success.
Roly with the mob
There was only one thing missing.
Without a mate Roly did not know how to play and box with the other roos.
And so he had to be taught.
Roly boxing lessons

Teaching young kangaroos to box can be a dangerous affair, and should only be done with caution.
But Roly is not the first joey we have taught, and his boxing lessons became fun, enjoyed by both human and kangaroo.


And Roly was a good student,
quickly learning when 'no' meant NO!
And 'game over' meant GAME OVER.
Roly taught
Roly loved
And all boxing lessons at Roo Gully end in love,
which we both enjoyed.
Then Roly met Ben, a volunteer,
and thought he might teach him how to box too!
Ben Roly boxing
Ben Roly box
And after a few weeks I began to wonder who had learned more!
Roly or Ben.
But I knew one young student would be adding something rather interesting
and very different, to his CV after his time at Roo Gully!
Kangaroo boxing instructor!
Ben Roly love
Lessons ended when Roly met Buster,
a young joey joining the mob.

Buster Roly wrestle

And the whole world changed for Roly.
He had found a best mate who was not a human.
Roly was now a kangaroo!
Buster Roly mates
There is no doubt young Roly endears himself to all those who meet him.
Volunteers fall in love with him.
Kristin and Roly
Ben and Roly
Michael and Roly
And being very photogenic he has helped our 'adoption' programme enormously.
Everyone has fond memories of the comical little roo they fell in love with on the Roo Gully web site.
Roly with visitors
Wolfgang Hanna and Roly
As for everyone else at Roo Gully?
Well Roly was definitely THE difficult joey of 2003.
He was so sick at times we were convinced he would die, but he pulled through, albeit with heaps of help.
He was also, without doubt, the most difficult joey to wean from human care,
but there is also absolutely no doubt that everyone here has a soft spot in their hearts for him.
Peter and Roly
Carol and Roly
Jules and Roly
Roly is a character, a natural comic, he is adorable and he is loving.
And everyone loves him.
Because of his many problems Roly is unsuitable for release and will therefore live at Roo Gully for the rest of his life. Your 'adoption' will help us care for him, and also assist us to continue the many studies he is involved in. Roly is being filmed and his progress documented, which will add valuable information to our study into the development of a young joey. We hope to learn who is responsible for his education, and his eventual role within the mob. Caring for Roly has also helped us learn more about raising an unfurred joey.
He will also help us change current scientific thinking that Western Grey kangaroos are seasonal breeders. Many believe that Western Grey joeys are all born between November and March, but we have cared for other joeys that were obviously born much earlier, and some very much later. Born between the 16th and the 25th June 2002, Roly is further hard evidence that Western Grey kangaroos might not be seasonal breeders, or that if they are they can alter their breeding season according to climatic conditions.
Roly will also help other kangaroos that become sick, because all the X rays that have been taken, the tests that have been carried out, and the treatment he received for his stomach problem will hopefully help us understand the kangaroo's digestive system much better, and how best to treat it when things go wrong. This information is being passed on to zoos, Australian wildlife carers and vets all around the world.

Roly thinks
Roly nosey
Roly thinks
On behalf of Roly and his mates we thank you for caring

Roly's Tale © Roo Gully 2004