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Floyd County gets a look Down Under with ‘Aussie Kingdom’

  • Audience members got an opportunity to pet a python named Tula during the Aussie Kingdom show at the Floyd County Fair on Wednesday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Aussie Kingdom show at the Floyd County Fair features several species of kangaroos and wallabies. This baby kangaroo was born in captivity in the United States. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • A bearded dragon named Kimba was one of the featured animals during the Aussie Kingdom show at the Floyd County Fair on Wednesday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • A bearded dragon named Kimba was one of the featured animals during the Aussie Kingdom show at the Floyd County Fair on Wednesday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • A sugar glider caused the audience to “ooh” and “aww” during the Aussie Kingdom show at the Floyd County Fair on Wednesday. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Carolyn Lantz isn’t from Australia, but she gives fair-goers an informed and entertaining tour of the Outback.

“Australia has lost more animals to extinction than any other country,” Lantz told the audience at the start of her show Wednesday.

The “Aussie Kingdom” presentation at the Floyd County Fair, guided by Lantz, features kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras, a dingo, lizards, a sugar glider and even a python named Tula. Children — and a few adults — who wanted to pet some of the animals after the presentation were welcome to do so, under Lantz’s watchful eye.

The free Aussie Kingdom Show, sponsored by the Floyd County Community Foundation, will run at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at noon, 2:30 p.m., and 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Floyd County Fair.

Lantz, the show’s founder and president, said it’s not often that people in small-town Iowa get to see animals native to the Australian continent.

“Some of the zoos have them, but since Australia doesn’t export their animals, zoos don’t want to just have kangaroos when they can have all kinds of things from other countries,” she said.

Lantz founded Aussie Kingdom 13 years ago. Originally from California, she now lives in Colorado. She said she’s been to Australia three times, and she usually spends 6-8 weeks there when she goes.

“I just love the animals,” said Lantz, who hopes her show will get more people interested in saving kangaroos. “They are going to end up on the endangered list if people don’t start paying attention to what’s being done,” she said.

The show features several species of kangaroos and wallabies, all of which were born in captivity in the United States. The red kangaroo grows to be the largest, with males growing to seven feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, Lantz said. A considerably smaller, baby kangaroo was introduced to the audience by Lantz. The show also features a rare albino kangaroo.

She explained how Australian Aboriginal culture is the oldest on earth, at 40,000 years, and mentioned that Australia also has its share of beautiful birds, including the kookaburra.

The bird’s chattering call is often mistaken for that of a monkey, Lantz said, and then she taught the audience how to make the sound. The kookaburras responded, to the delight of the crowd. She said the birds are the largest members of the kingfisher family.

Lantz also presented a dingo, which was brought out on a leash. She said the formerly domestic, now feral animals can swivel their wrists to open doorknobs and can turn their heads 180 degrees. The dingo at the show was calm and docile.

“We’re not going to allow you to pet him, though, because dingos are notorious for eating babies,” Lantz joked, referring to a quip in a 1991 “Seinfeld” episode.

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