Located in Golden, Zoo Chateau is the home of two adorable kangaroos, a Zonkey named Zane, a donkey named Chewbacca, multiple horses, tortoises, rescue bunnies, rescue cats and more. This special “vacation rental zoo” is an amazing place run by the Crawford family — Rachel and Tim and their two daughters Keaton and Kili — that allow people to rent out their house through Airbnb and VRBO. But renting out their house comes with added responsibility — helping care for the animals and becoming educated about rescue efforts.
Keaton explained, “we have a two-night minimum because we only do animal interactions on full days just because it’s a little bit more difficult to do check-in and check-out days. They get to see all of the different animals. And then usually what happens is if they stay for a little bit longer, usually three or four days or maybe a little bit longer, we’ve had people stay for like a week and a half– they get a little bit more involved. They want to learn about how to take care of the animals and all that kind of stuff. We really do a lot of the education side, so it really depends.”
Guests are able to get hands-on experience and do what they feel comfortable with. Keaton said, “We let the guests be in charge of what they want. If they just want to see the animals and feed them treats and stuff, we let them do that. If they want to get a little bit more involved and clean the horse stalls and learn about how to groom the horses and clean up after the Kangaroos and the tortoises, then we kind of let them get more involved if they want to. So it’s kinda up to them.”
Even though not all of Zoo Chateau’s animals are rescues, they do partner with local rescues such as the Boulder Humane Society, Denver Dumb Friends League and Heading Home Animal Rescue to help rescue cats, rabbits and other animals that might need homes as well giving donations to make sure they do their part in helping out animals in need.
Zoo Chateau also does something a little more wild than giving these animals treats – it operates a yoga class with kangaroos.
In November of 2018, Zoo Chateau opened up Yoga with Kangaroos. The experience allows you to interact face to face with two three-year-old red kangaroos, Bindi and Rooney. These kangaroos were raised as babies by the Crawfords and are used as ambassadors to help educate the public about wild animals. These kangaroos are not like the ones you see in zoos or in the outback that are massive and hulking, as the male, Rooney, is neutered and will not grow to be as large as he would in the wild.
Before the session starts, people are taken in two by two into the enclosure to interact with the kangaroos, feed them little granola treats and have a chance to pet them. Kangaroos have super soft fur, something most people won’t get the chance to find out. Throughout the interaction you can learn about their diet, habits and other facts about the kangaroos, again following the mission of education that Zoo Chateau promises. After the interaction, the yoga session starts.
The 20 to 30-minute long yoga session led by instructor Kelly Longwell starts with a calming collecting of thoughts and proceeds into a flow with the roos calmly bounding around the room. As the session goes on, the kangaroos settle and seem to get into the zen zone, taking their spots in two sunny patches, subsequently napping. Throughout the session, a handler ‚ which is dubbed a “referoo” — stays within the enclosure, taking photos, assisting with the kangaroos and guests and making sure everyone is safe and comfortable during the whole process.
You thought yoga with goats was popular? Well, yoga with kangaroos has piqued the interest of individuals from people across the globe and these sessions sell out fast, part of the reason being the size of the encounters.
Keaton explained, “we keep our class sizes really small. We had eight in there but it seemed that people got a little bit more interaction with the Kangaroos [with less people] so we lowered it to six and we actually lowered it recently to four people per class just to make sure that every single person gets to have individual time with the kangaroos. They get to feed them, they could take selfies with them and stuff like that if they want to. And then they can go do their yoga practice.”
If you aren’t able to book a public session, Zoo Chateau does offer private sessions as well. You can grab three friends and make a day of visiting the roos and interacting with some cool animals. If you aren’t really into yoga that is okay too as day interactions are offered without the need of booking a yoga session. The day interactions with the kangaroos allow you to spend time more with them, feed them small treats and have an educational session all about them.
Zoo Chateau also offers whole day visits if you want to learn more about all of the animals that are kept there and interact with all of them without booking a yoga session or staying at the house. You can see the three tortoises in their enclosure, you can meet horses, give Zane the Zonkey a scratch and explore all of the new construction that will soon become enclosures for the rabbits that call the Chateau home.
All of the animals kept at Zoo Chateau are given large spaces to roam and given time off from interactions throughout the week to ensure that they do not get overwhelmed. This means that there are limited days that you can book the yoga sessions and day interactions – however – it also means that when you do book there, there is more time and effort being dedicated to these encounters. Zoo Chateau makes an effort to keep their animals healthy and happy ensuring a great experience for everyone involved.
Like any interaction with a somewhat wild animal, there are some small risks. You will have to sign a waiver before you attend the session and be aware that the roos might get a little feisty but all in all, if you aren’t afraid of taking the rare chance to interact with a really cool animal it is well worth it.
You can book your yoga with kangaroos session here for $75.
All Photography by Samantha Hines