A40 wallaby riddle solved - Hartpury student ball pranksters
STREWTH! A wandering wallaby escaped from a college campus on the night of the student ball.
Sightings of the marsupial near the A40 at Highnam were reported to police, but The Citizen can reveal it was set free from Hartpury College.
Hopping mad officials at the college confirmed they reported one missing nearly two months ago after, on the night of the student ball, someone set the three animals loose.
Hartpury vice-principal Luke Rake, said: "We were in the process of developing our animals collection including acquiring the three wallabies when they were set loose. We think it was student hi jinks which led to them being deliberately freed. We managed to round up the two females but not the male."
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He said they only acquired the creatures from Marwell Zoo on June 1, and they were set free on June 4 for their animal care courses.
The Citizen went out to Highnam Woods yesterday to see if we could track the animal. Wildlife enthusiast Frank Tunbridge joined me and said wallabies are "born survivors".
"They only come out at twilight and survive on the trees and plants around them," he said. "Interestingly, one member of the species is able to locate another from a great distance in order to meet up and mate."
However, members of the public are asked not venture out to help capture the wallaby.
Mr Rake, who said it made sense that the animal had got as far as Highnam, added: "We ask members of the public not to approach him. He is harmless but when approached will simply run away."
The college reported the great escape to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and RSPCA. Diane Roberts, of Defra, said: "Hartpury called and asked if we had any darting experts to assist. Unfortunately we had no-one with the expertise."
The story of the roaming wallaby has caught the imagination of many media outlets, including those in its native land of Australia. Melbourne-based newspaper Herald Sun reported: "Sightings of a wallaby or kangaroo in an English county have police and locals baffled."