G’Day Mate!

Three-year-old Elizabeth Gardner and Rocky the Wallaby meet each other on Thursday at Most Holy Redeemer. Rocky was a special guest at HRS for its Open House event for area families. (Wade Young Photo)


Thursday’s Open House at Most Holy Redeemer School brought frozen Czech country people to something from the Down Under: a live wallaby.
Rocky, a Bennett’s Wallaby was a star attraction at the HRS Open House “Down Under” on January 31 for part of HRS’ Catholic Schools Week. Rocky, in his large cage in one of the school’s classrooms, greeted guests of all ages, but mostly the preschool and kindergarten children for whom the open house was geared so they could learn more about HRS. 
As they pet the three-year-old gentle Wallaby through the cage, his owner educated them on the Down Under marsupial.
Rocky’s owner is Christian Lilienthal, a 2009 University of Minnesota graduate who has a degree in Agriculture Education. He lives in rural Arlington on 300 acres that he uses to house various exotic animals like a “mob” of kangaroo, emu, peacocks, llamas, turkey, and ducks, among others. 
To HRS visitors, he explained that he has had Rocky the Wallaby since he was a six-month-old, bottle-fed Joey. 
Lilienthal gave visitors some interesting details about Wallabies, like they keep active no matter the temperature, as long as it is sunny.
“They do really well in a variety of temperatures, as long as there is sun,” he said. “When it’s five degrees outside and sunny, they’re kicking their way to get out, but when it’s overcast and 20 degrees, they won’t come out. It’s really the sun that makes the difference for them.”
He also explained that Rocky has more dexterity in his hands than a normal marsupial, which makes him a picky eater than most Wallabies who graze like sheep.
Lilienthal studied abroad in Australia for a couple years to learn even more about wallaby and other animals. He now meets state legal parameters for raising non-domestic animals at his farm.
HRS Principal Mindy Reeder said Rocky was a hit with children and their parents.
“We loved having Christian Lilienthal and Rocky the Wallaby! He was so gentle and friendly with the children,” said Reeder. “About 30 families came to the open house to meet Rocky. It was an educational night that brought many smiles!”
As for the kids, many thought seeing something from Down Under was unique and pretty special.
“The wallaby was really really, really cool,” said Dawson Slechta.