Visitor and volunteer coordinator Melanie Winyard said someone first spied the marsupial, which belongs to the same family as the kangaroo, on Sunday.
How he got there is unknown but a zoologist thinks it’s a Bennett’s wallaby, a species known to be living in the wild in small colonies across the UK.
Hmm, I didn’t know wallabys were living wild in the UK. But here it is!
People outside of the UK – and even many of those within it – are often totally unaware of the several wallaby colonies that Britain has or, at least, had until recently. The animal in question is Bennett’s wallaby Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus, the Tasmanian subspecies of the Red-necked wallaby (the subspecies of mainland Australia is M. r. banksianus). Bennett’s wallaby has been introduced all over the place in the UK, including on Herm in the Channel Islands, in the Weald in south-east England, and also in northern England and Scotland. The biggest colony lives within the grounds of Whipsnade Wild Animal Park (formerly Whipsnade Zoo) in Bedfordshire and is said to have been the source of colonies introduced elsewhere. A colony in Staffordshire mostly died out during the harsh winter of 1962-63 (but were just about still going as recently as the 1990s). The Inconnachan Island* colony started out in 1975 and apparently persists.
Thanks Darren, my go-to source for everything that has a four-legged body plan.
UPDATE (31-Oct-2013) They caught it. His name is Jean and he is fine.
The police called the RSPCA – prompting a morning of high drama as a lone RSPCA officer tried to keep the creature safe and get it into captivity.
RSPCA officer Leigh Summers was alerted by 7am: he came from his base in Harrow and admitted he did not quite know what to expect. He said: “I’ve worked for the RSPCA for nine years and this is my first wallaby.”
He said: “It looks very much like the one reported in Highgate. He is good spirits and perfectly healthy.”