Cows, Pigs and Kangaroos…Oh My!
Casper fairgoers get a glimpse of Aussie Kingdom's exotic animals
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Jul 14, 2022
The Aussie Kingdom exhibit at the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo features a display of a variety of animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, a kookaburra, a blue-tongue skink, a snake and a dingo. It was the first time the fair hosted the traveling exhibit. (Wyoming Truth photos by Shen Wu Tan)
By Shen Wu Tan
Special to the Wyoming Truth
CASPER, Wyo. – Pigs, chickens, cows and…kangaroos?
It’s not just your typical livestock on display at the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo this week. In honor of the fair’s 75th anniversary, attendees got a little taste of the Outback as well.
The Aussie kingdom exhibit, set up right in front of the rodeo stadium, gave passersby a chance to sneak peeks at kangaroos, wallabies, a snake, a sugar glider, a bearded dragon, a dingo, a blue-tongued skink and a variety of Australian birds, including the laughing kookaburra – the first time the fair has hosted the traveling exhibit.
“We wanted to make the 75th kind of special, but we also try to bring stuff in that people don’t get to see everywhere or every day,” Tom Jones, the general manager of the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo, told the Wyoming Truth.
Carolyn Lantz, the owner of the Aussie Kingdom traveling exhibit, offers three shows a day at the fair, educating attendees about Australian animals and allowing them to have close-up, personal interactions with some reptiles.
“Australia is the only country where you can find these animals in the wild … ,” Lantz said. “This gives them [people] an opportunity to see something they normally would never see in the United States and get up close to them and realize how important they really are…The more you know about an animal, the more you are going to care about it, the more you’re going to want to save it” from extinction.
During the shows, Lantz teaches audience members interesting facts about the animals on display. For instance, a bearded dragon will puff up his “beard” around a predator to try and scare it off or run away if that tactic doesn’t work. While kangaroos have five fingers on each of their forepaws, they only have three toes on each of their hind paws and can hop up to 40 miles an hour. And a laughing kookaburra will catch its prey, lift it in the air and drop it.
Rebekah and Hunter Brown, fairgoers who attended the Aussie Kingdom afternoon show on Tuesday, came to the event to see the Australian wildlife.
Their 7-month-old baby, Adilynn, also got to pet the scaly blue-tongued skink, Melman, during the show.
“It was really cool,” Hunter said of the exhibit and show, as the kookaburra cackled in the background.
Rebekah, who has attended the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo for several years, described the exhibit as “off the wall” compared to the livestock seen on ranches and farms across the Cowboy State.
“It was something that attracted us more to coming because it was not your normal, every day, every year type of thing,” Rebekah said, cradling her newborn in her arms. “ . . . And for someone who can’t necessarily afford to travel or afford to go out of the country and learn about this stuff, it was right here and available in our hometown.”
Elise Turner, another Casper resident who stopped by the Aussie exhibit, wanted to see the kangaroos. She attended the fair Tuesday with her husband, J.D., and her 8-year-old son, Mason. As a family, they’ve attended the fair for more than 10 years, always purchasing weeklong passes.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said of the Australian animal exhibit. “We used to have sugar gliders, which are an Australian marsupial, too, so we really like anything from Australia. So, definitely the kangaroos were a catcher for us to want to come and look at them and experience them and see them up close. Too bad we can’t touch them.”
Turner said she had sugar gliders as pets for ten years, which she bought from an exotic pet store at a mall.
Lantz, who has run Aussie Kingdom for about 15 years, is trying to build up the conservation center on a 60-acre ranch in Elizabeth, Colorado. The animals at the fair exhibit came from breeders and zoos in the United States, except a baby albino wallaby named Tundra, who was imported from Belgium.
Lantz brought three wallabies, including Tundra, and four different types of kangaroos, including an albino Eastern Gray Kangaroo and a Western Gray Kangaroo, to the Casper fair.
For Nate Stratton, the Aussie Kingdom exhibit was his first stop Tuesday. He and his wife, Mariah, and two children watched the 6 p.m. show. Jade, his 8-year-old daughter, and Blake, his 6-year-old son, jumped at the opportunity to pet a snake and a lizard during the show.
“What we do like is that the fair has been trying over the past few years to bring in different side shows such as the Aussie one,” Stratton said. “Seeing something exotic like this, it’s a nice treat.”