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See Kangaroos in Georgia

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If you or your child loves animals, you have the opportunity to see kangaroos outside a zoo without trekking all the way to Australia. In fact, you don't even have to leave the state.

Dawsonville, a small mountain town in north Georgia about an hour drive from Gwinnett, is home to the Kangaroo Conservation Center # the largest collection of kangaroos outside of Australia. The 87-acre preserve is owned by Debbie and Roger Nelson, who devote their lives to caring for and protecting the animals.

The Nelsons established the center in 1985 and run the preserve with private investments. They also make money by selling kangaroos to zoos and holding safaris for visitors.

Kangaroos at the center roam the preserve and are left alone as much as possible by the Nelson”s and their small staff, though they keep records of diet, bloodlines and mating habits.

The center conducts two-hour tours to teach visitors about kangaroos and other exotic residents such as an antelope and a variety of birds. Tours cost $22.50 for adults and $17.50 for children eight and over. Children under eight are not allowed on the tours. The tour”s safari buses are not equipped to seat children and the instructional portions of the tour are too advanced for young children. Reservations are required on all tours. There is no minimum advance notice but tours can fill weeks in advance.

For more information or to book a tour, call 706-265-6100 or visit www.kangaroocenter.com.