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Roo on the Run: Wandering wallaby remains elusive in Stark County

Wallaby experts fear that the exotic animal won't survive long in the wild in Ohio

BREWSTER, Ohio — The marsupial mystery thickens in the Stark County village of Brewster.

"It's the weirdest thing to happen in my 24-year career," said Chief Nathan Taylor of the Brewster Police Department.

A wandering wallaby was first spotted last Thursday behind a wooded backyard. Cell phone video shot by residents Kegan and Summer Powell, which was shared with 3News, showed the marsupial hopping across SR 93.

The bizarre sighting has captured nationwide attention.

"We are getting calls from all over the United States, believe it or not," said Taylor. "The only call we haven't gotten is from Australia," he said with a chuckle.

But is this marsupial a small kangaroo, or is it its smaller cousin, the wallaby?

3News reached out to Bob Heyob from Horsefeathers Farm in southwest Ohio, where he's been breeding wallabies for more than 30 years for zoos across North America.

"That appears to be a male Bennett's wallaby," Heyob said immediately when we showed him a picture of the animal captured by a resident. He also had a warning for anyone who might get too close.

"A male that size -- you'll probably never tame him. And anyone who tries to grab him, he'll bite them. And he bites very hard and draws blood with every bite," Heyob said.

Police haven't had any luck wrangling the roo so far, so they recruited the help of an animal sanctuary from Youngstown, which baited a cage with a trail cam to capture the wallaby. Neighboring Wooster police lent a drone for Brewster officers to use try to locate the animal.

But Heyob fears for the wallaby's survival beyond 3-6 months -- not just because of passing cars or Ohio's harsh winters, but because of the animal's non-native soil here in Ohio.

"There's not enough vitamin E or selenium in our soil to keep them healthy," he said. "We are lacking very key elements in our soil that are required for them to survive."

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