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Kangaroos are big attraction at Duluth boat show

Chris Navratil thinks the kangaroos might end up rivaling the waterskiing squirrel in popularity. Sure enough, the mob of animals from Australia at the Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel & RV Show Wednesday was a magnet for the outdoors fans who gat...

Swamp wallaby
Carolyn Lantz of Elizabeth, Colo., holds a swamp wallaby at the Aussie Kingdom exhibit Wednesday on the opening night of the Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel and RV Show at the DECC. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

Chris Navratil thinks the kangaroos might end up rivaling the waterskiing squirrel in popularity.

Sure enough, the mob of animals from Australia at the Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel & RV Show Wednesday was a magnet for the outdoors fans who gather at the annual event that runs through Sunday.

Navratil is with Shamrock Productions, the company that puts on the show that is now in its 46th year.

"We try to bring in new things," she said, although the event so jam-packs the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center that it's tough to find an unsatisfied customer.

"It's a close tie," she said of the thought that the kangaroos might attract more people than the squirrel on the skis a few years ago. "There's just so many animals."

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You know that Carolyn Lantz is in demand when she tells you her Aussie Kingdom show had her and her crew on the road for 10 months last year. Hers is the only traveling animal show in the United States featuring animals from the Land Down Under.

Despite all of those shows, she still gets nervous at the first show of every stop and is prone to a few verbal slip-ups. Wednesday was no different as she welcomed everyone to the "Wisconsin Sports Show." Oops, Minnesota. The other show was last week.

"I was in Virginia once and forgot what state I was in," Lantz said with a laugh while people petted the tiny kangaroo in her arms after her presentation Wednesday night.

"We thought we'd bring her to Duluth," an excited Navratil said. "She was a huge success in LaCrosse."

She said the exhibitors at the DECC show, one of the largest at the facility each year, are enjoying the new twist to the show. "It's just fun to watch them," Navratil said.

More than 25 animals are part of the show and Lantz does a short presentation on each of the varieties.

She began raising kangaroos on her farm south of Denver eight years ago and decided to take a show on the road after so many requests to visits the farm.

"We're the only ones doing this," Lantz said.

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The creatures are so foreign, people really want to get a close look at them, she said. That leads to the most common question at her shows. "Do they bite?" Lantz said.

Most of the time, no. But a kangaroo can deliver a pretty hefty kick.

And did you know that a group of them is called a mob? Or that a kangaroo is "always moving forward," Lantz said, because they don't have the ability to walk backwards?

Show-goers can get a close-up view of the kangaroo run along with a few birds and amphibians before and after the shows. Lantz has a petting opportunity after each show and encourages people to take pictures.

With interactive displays, antlers, big fish and too many boats, recreational vehicles and booths to count, the outdoors show opens at 5 p.m. today and closes at 10 p.m. It opens at 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday. The closing time remains 10 p.m. except for Sunday, which is 5 p.m.

This is the third year that the Northland Outdoors Duluth Deer Classic runs as part of the boat show at the DECC.

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