Florida inmates sew cloth pouches for orphaned kangaroos

Posted at 12:27 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 12:27:51-05

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- Inmates at a Florida jail are sewing cloth pouches for kangaroos and koalas orphaned by wildfires in Australia, even if animal care organizations there have enough of them for the time being.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday tweeted video showing two inmates hard at work at sewing machines, stitching together what are called "joey pouches" for the orphaned marsupials.

The pouches are made from old uniforms, and "Inmates making them learn a new skill they can use upon their release," tweeted the sheriff's office, located outside Orlando.

Australia's unprecedented wildfires season has charred huge expanses of brushland, rainforests, and national parks -- killing more than a billion wild animals by one estimate. People hoping to help out from afar have been sewing pouches and sending them to Australia -- so many that earlier this month, an organization distributing the pouches said it was being "overwhelmed."

"We are now receiving a great deal of parcels each week and we feel that we will have more than enough," Wildcare Australia Inc. announced on Jan. 18.
"As we have limited storage space, we would ask if you have not already started sewing pouches, that you please hold off on making any more until we distribute the pouches which we expect to arrive over the coming weeks," the statement said. "If you already have pouches sewn, please feel free to send them to us."

Seminole sheriff's spokesman Bob Kealing said the jail had been working with Wildcare Australia.

"They've told us to finish the batch we've been working on and send them along," Kealing said in an email. "From that point we'll wait for if/when they say they need some more."