Animals are such agreeable friends; they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
– George Eliot
Several years ago when we moved to the Okanagan we immediately set out to explore the valley and seek out activities that offered the “Okanagan Experience”. At the top of most lists were the standard array of local activities: wine tours, Big White Resort, Myra Canyon Park, etc. However there was one attraction that seemed to be near the top of every list: a Kangaroo farm. Intrigued by the thought of Kangaroos right here in the Okanagan, we very quickly stumbled upon one of the most unique, and popular, attractions that the Okanagan has to offer: the Kangaroo Creek Farm.
Nestled on 10 acres in the heart of Lake Country and operated by husband-and-wife owners Caroline McPherson and Greg Wightman, this small farm epitomizes rural Okanagan charm. From the moment you walk onto the farm you are struck by the feeling of childhood wonder as you watch a Kangaroo hopping about. And once you hold a baby wallaby in your arms you will understand how this relatively nondescript animal oasis has exploded into a venue that entertains and educates an estimated 100,000 visitors annually.
The farm has its origins as a Kangaroo rescue hobby farm. Due to a program that was implemented in New Zealand in the 1980’s, all non-native species, including Kangaroos, were destined for eradication throughout the country. As a result, the farm owners were presented with an opportunity to save a number of Kangaroos from the cull and the rest, as they say, is history.
To be clear this is not a zoo. It’s more of a sanctuary where both foreign and domestic animals of all sorts are rescued and cared for. The animals that inhabit the farm are free from the constraints of a typical cage. It’s clear that the animals, not the tourists, come first, but if you respect the animals and follow the rules you will have the ability to interact with a unique diversity of species.
Besides Kangaroos, Wallaroos, and Wallabys (which really only differ in size), the farm also has a number of Capybaras. As the largest rodent in the world, these creatures are impressively big in contrast to their stealthy cousins and yet appear to have a quiet and peaceful demeanour about them.
One of the most popular animals on the farm is the Sugar Glider. These small marsupials can fit in the palm of your hand and are carried around in small sacks which hang from the necks of the farm employees. They are able to jump and glide between objects and their timid, diminutive nature makes them endearing to children.
The farm also has Emus; curious creatures that are strikingly large in person and tall enough to be eye-to-eye with most adults. However the species diversity at the Kangaroo Creek Farm runs deeper than just animals from the Outback. Many Goats, a favourite for hand-feeding, roam the farm and seem to pack a lot of personality. The rest of the tribe is rounded out by Pot-Bellied Pigs, Parrots, Peacocks, Ducks and Chickens which together all add a unique vibe to the mix.
The farm prides itself on it’s lack of corporate feel (or in the words of the owners, it is consciously maintained to be as “un-Disney-fied” as possible). The minimal entrance fee of $5 per person (for persons 5 years and over) replaces the previous “By Donation” system which was sadly abused. This nominal fee offers good value given that several hours of wonder and exploration usually follow.
In staying true to their non-commercial mission, the animals are the main, and only, draw at the Kangaroo Creek Farm. There are no side attractions, over-priced concessions or gift shops to walk through. Pictures can be freely taken and there is no extra charge to hold a baby Kangaroo. Farm employees walk around with food for the animals to hand-out so that visitors can take part in the feeding and a visit to the farm allows one to gain an appreciation for the work that goes into raising these animals.
With the philosophy of welfare of the animals over convenience of tourists in mind, the farm sets their hours around the schedule of the animals. As such, the farm is only open from 10:00am-2:00pm daily from May 1-September 30 (outside of this it is typically on a reduced basis). July and August brings extended hours as they open one hour earlier (9am) in addition opening to visitors for two hours in the evening from 6:00pm-8:00pm
I feel that the Kangaroo Creek Farm perfectly embodies Lake Country: rural, friendly and full of surprises. From the moment that you walk onto the farm and see a Kangaroo (or Wallaroo or Wallaby) hopping about uncaged one can’t help but smile. For a unique experience where animal care is at the forefront and we are all just privileged guests in this unique setting, I would highly recommend a trip to the Kangaroo Creek Farm.
The Kangaroo Creek Farm is located at 3193 Hill Road in Lake Country, BC and is now open for the season. Please visit their website for more information.