Wendell the Wallaby escapes from zoo in snowy eastern Ontario
A wallaby, an animal resembling a small kangaroo, is missing from a private zoo in eastern Ontario after a tree fell and crashed through his pen, breaching the fence around it during the season's first snowstorm.
Wendell, a three-year-old Bennett's red-necked wallaby less than a metre in height, was on the loose Thursday, a day after he escaped from Saunders Country Critters in Oxford Station, Ont., about 45 kilometres south of Ottawa.
Carla Saunders, who owns the farm, said Wendell has lived in captivity since his birth, was hand-raised in an artificial pouch and is probably panicked to be out in the wild.
"The good thing about Wendell is he is a chunky monkey. He's got lots of meat and potatoes on him, so he should be able to survive a while," she said. Nevertheless, she added that no one at the farm got much sleep last night and they are hoping he is found soon.
Saunders suspects Wendell could be quite far away, as a kangaroo that escaped from the same enclosure during the same incident was found almost 20 kilometres down the road, trapped in a fence. The kangaroo and other animals that had been housed with Wendell were safely recaptured and put back in their pen. However, one muntjac deer, a small animal about the size of a beagle, died, and Saunders believes that was due to the stress of the incident.
She hoped Wendell would be out and about Thursday because of the sun, and advised anyone who spots Wendell to try to chase him into a building.
"If they can get near him, grab him by the tail and drop him into a pillow case ... because a pillow case is going to be like mom's pouch," she said. "So it's going to be that warm, safe place which should calm him right down."
She added that putting him in a blanket would also work.
Hunt for Wendell continues
Saunders's husband Gary said they have had tremendous support from neighbours, who helped with the search Wednesday.
"It was cold, everybody was soaking wet from walking through the bush and stuff — everyone put in a real good effort," he said.
Some continued to hunt for Wendell on Thursday.
The eight-hectare zoo is home to 120 animals, including llamas, ring-tailed lemurs, fennec foxes and sulcata desert tortoises, and Saunders said no animals have ever escaped before.
Wallabies and kangaroos are marsupials native to Australia that raise their young in pouches on their bodies.