Volunteers search for missing wallaby in Washington state

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2015 2:26 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Volunteers were searching a wooded area north of Seattle for a missing marsupial who bounded away from its crate during a transfer to a local petting zoo last week, putting the animal at risk for predators, its guardian said on Wednesday.

Bella, a 6-year-old wallaby, streaked across a highway and down toward a river in Arlington, 45 miles north of Seattle, after the wire on her kennel got loose as she was moved to the Outback Kangaroo Farm, an exotic animal petting zoo, owner Joey Strom said.

"We were losing hope but this morning we got two calls about sightings," Strom said.

A pet psychic has offered her services, telling Strom and her husband, Ray, that she could feel the heartbeat of the 35-pound wallaby.

Several volunteers were following up on the sightings while others were looking for tracks and droppings, Strom said.

"She can survive for a while out there," Strom said. "They (wallabies) don't mind the cold and there's plenty to eat," she said.

But the zoo's owners are worried she could encounter any number of predators, including dogs or wild animals, such as bears and coyotes, Strom said.

"She's never been on her own," she said.

Wallabies are pouched marsupials and members of the kangaroo clan. They are found primarily in Australia and nearby islands.

Though marsupials that get loose will normally return on their own, Bella was in new surroundings, about 100 miles from her previous home, Strom said.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)