John Cleese's South Coast gift for wife

Shoalhaven Zoo senior keeper Jeni Brown with John Cleese and his wife Jennifer Wade and eight-month-old joey Honey.
Shoalhaven Zoo senior keeper Jeni Brown with John Cleese and his wife Jennifer Wade and eight-month-old joey Honey.

It’s not every day you meet comedy royalty.

But that’s exactly what happened to Shoalhaven Zoo senior keeper Jeni Brown and a little eastern grey kangaroo joey called Honey at the weekend.

John Cleese, of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python fame, is in Australia and arranged a special birthday gift for his wife, Jennifer Wade - a visit with the young joey for some one-on-one time and birthday cuddles.

Shoalhaven Zoo owner Nick Schilko said his business was catering for such special visits more often.

“We have an agency that knows we do these kinds of off-site visits and they contact us,” he said.

Ms Brown, who is a Cleese fan, said it was an amazing opportunity to meet someone who she grew up watching.

“I am a John Cleese fan from way back, as was my dad. I was bought up on Monty Python,” she said.

“It was great to meet him. He seemed like a pretty regular guy, down to earth and very sincere and nice.

“He just wanted to do something nice and memorable for his wife.

“He seemed genuinely interested in the eight-month-old joey and kangaroos in general and was asking lots of questions.”

She said she spent 40 minutes with the couple.

“They are both big wildlife enthusiasts, his wife loved the joey,” she said.

“They have been kangaroo fans for a long time; Jennifer really loves them. They didn’t know a lot about them but spent the morning learning.

“Honey was extremely well behaved, as she usually is.

“She loves the attention and was sitting on Jennifer’s lap. John had a nurse then she climbed over the lounge and even hopped around the hotel suite.

“It was fantastic. It was the best fun to meet wildlife enthusiasts and speak about their passions.”

Mr Schilko said it was nice to allow his staff to undertake such special visits.

“Our staff works hard so it is good to be able to reward them with the opportunity to meet someone famous,” he said.

“We do lots of such visits – a lot of corporate work with our koalas and other animals.

“Last year someone booked Shark Island for a private function and invited our koalas and some of our other Australian animals along.

“The animals do get enjoyment out of it, they love the extra attention." 


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