Jennifer Caton and Khloe the baby kangaroo

Jennifer Caton of Bar C Ranch cuddles with Khloe, whom she acquired from a zookeeper friend in Missouri. 

If you went to the Orange County Fair, maybe you came upon petting zoo owner Jennifer Caton cradling a soft-furred, sweet-face baby kangaroo in her arms. Khloe, age 8 months, was one of two red kangaroos she had on hand for wide-eyed visitors to gaze upon and photograph. Khloe the joey (a kangaroo youngster) and Roofus (playing off the species name Macropus rufus), age 3½, clearly adore Caton, the owner of Bar C Ranch in Berryville. She keeps her kangaroos, goats, llamas, hedgehogs, porcupines, and tarantulas at home when she and the gang aren’t on the road with her mobile petting zoo. In addition to appearing at county fairs, Caton hosts educational shows and offers “living nativity” packages to organizations staging Christmas pageants. While Virginia law prohibits people from owning predatory wild animals, she said it’s generally up to each county to determine which exotic and/or non-native animals can be kept as pets. Before you hop out and buy a baby kangaroo (and it’s tempting, after a few minutes around Khloe), keep in mind you’ll need to carry it around all day as if it were in its mama’s pouch—and you’ll need to feed it around the clock, too. Caton said, “It’s like caring for an infant”—an infant that will grow up to have a long tail and the ability to jump 10 feet in the air. 

Hilary Holladay covers education and writes feature stories for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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