DM
Victoria, UK
Meet the pint-sized park ranger who can handle anything from crocodiles and huge snakes to baby quokkas and wallabies. Five-year-old Charlie Parker, who calls Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria his own backyard, has been dubbed the next Steve Irwin. Charlie, whose parents Greg and Julia own the wildlife park, first held a snake when he was one and wrestled his first crocodile at the age of three.
He now regularly helps out feeding the animals and running tours and shows in the afternoon after he finishes preschool.
‘He fed the salt water crocodile from behind a ledge just yesterday and made him jump out of the water,’ his mother Julia told Daily Mail Australia.
In his pint-sized wildlife uniform, Charlie already considers himself a park ranger and is often referred to as a mini Steve Irwin. ‘Greg knew Steve Irwin - he was certainly a character and Charlie is quite a character. If your parents own a park you’re bound to be involved,’ Julia said. He was three when he was pictured for the first time wrestling a baby crocodile under his father’s watchful eye. ‘The crocodiles are a bit too big for him now though. Even if their mouths are tied up, he wouldn’t be able to do it on his own,’ Julia said.
‘He still helps though by carrying the crocs by their tails and doing health checks. Charlie is definitely a reptile man - just like his dad and older brother Stuart.’ Charlie comes to Ballarat Wildlife Park three to four times a week and it is often a struggle for his parents to get him back home again. ‘It’s hard to get him out of the park. He is pretty proud of his uniform and has this stride that he does when he is helping out,’ Julia said. ‘When he comes to the park he’ll help the reptile keepers by cleaning the water dishes and feeding.
We have interactive shows and he brings out snakes and lizards.
‘He is an absolute character. He is very comical and funny. He hangs around with a lot of adults and at the park he likes to have responsibility.
‘It’s his backyard and helping the animals is his hobby - so it’s just normal for him.’