Their troubles are over, and Ross, Rachel, Chandler and Joey are safe now at home. Three years after their rescue from a roadside zoo in Canada, this lucky troop of kangaroos is thriving at Black Beauty Ranch.
The ‘roos were among over 200 animals rescued from the Saint-Édouard Zoo in Quebec, in May 2019, after public complaints prompted the Montreal SPCA to launch an investigation into conditions at the facility. Humane Society International and the Montreal SPCA worked together to rescue the animals. In addition to the kangaroos— named for characters of the iconic television series “Friends”—two tigers, a lion, a zebra, a wildebeest, a nilgai and an emu have found permanent sanctuary at Black Beauty. They now have the company of many other happy creatures in the natural and enriched surroundings the sanctuary offers.
Three of the kangaroos—Ross, Rachel and Joey—suffered the worst of things at the Quebec facility, living in a small stall in a dank dark barn. Having been born in the stall, young Joey had never seen sunlight. Chandler, who arrived at Black Beauty so young he was still tucked in his mother’s pouch, was spared their experience of deprivation and neglect.
Given their history, it’s not surprising that the kangaroos had some trust issues in the beginning, but they’ve steadily warmed up to life at Black Beauty. They’ve gained needed weight, their health has improved, they’re caught up on their vaccinations and they are receiving excellent veterinary care. Ross and Rachel are friendly and curious about all that’s going on around them, and they both love bananas. Joey and Chandler are a bit more reserved, but they’ve become more at ease about approaching caregivers at treat time. They have a natural spacious habitat in which they can explore, browse and relax as they please. They’ve made friends with the goats and sulcata tortoises who share their home. In the hot summer, the four kangaroos like to lounge under their shade sails. In winter they prefer their shelter, basking in the sunlight that shines through the entryway.
The unaccredited zoo in St-Édouard-de-Maskinongé was no different from many other substandard operations our animal rescue team members have seen
.in Canada and the U.S. Such places rely on the public’s affection and interest in animals to lure unaware visitors, charging them to see animals they don’t know are being neglected behind the scenes. There is never enough space, attention or species-appropriate care for the animals kept at these operations, and many can barely turn around in their run-down enclosures. Their housing is unsound and unsafe, and their proper socialization is an afterthought, if it is thought of at all.
No animal should be forced to languish in such conditions, and in this respect, some justice has finally been rendered. The zoo’s former owner pleaded guilty to four animal welfare charges in November 2021. He agreed to pay approximately $7,000 in fines and is prohibited from owning or keeping animals for commercial purposes for a period of five years.
People love and are fascinated by wild animals, but too many lax laws allow bad actors to exploit such interest for profit, keeping animals in conditions they should never experience. That’s part of what makes Black Beauty Ranch and other accredited animal sanctuaries necessary. Together, they provide a safety net for animals in crisis, and there will always be some need for them. We’d far prefer to see wild animals living in their natural habitats, protected from harm, never in captivity in the first place. But sanctuaries prompt us to develop a new and better vision of the relationship between humans and other creatures.
We can reshape the lives of these four kangaroos and the other animals we take in at Black Beauty because of your support. They get a chance to be themselves and express their natural behaviors, and they will never again lack for comfort, food, enrichment, veterinary treatment and socialization with others of their own kind. Years of neglect have already given way to years of contentment, safety and joy, and there are more ahead.