Police in the German city of Erfurt sprang into action after a perplexed pedestrian said they had seen a kangaroo hopping across a busy road.
Officers were quickly on the creature’s tail, tracking it down to the property of a tire dealer.
What happened next?
After a little detective work, officers realized they had honed in on a rare Bennett’s tree-kangaroo. The animal — more suited to tropical climes than the streets of central Germany — appeared to have roamed a long way from home.
However, the encounter was short-lived, and before the team could safely apprehend the runaway, it had fled into nearby bushes.
Informed that a kangaroo was on the run, Erfurt’s city zoo checked against a tally of its own residents — but none appeared to be missing.
Sleuths from the city’s southern police division traced the owner. It turned out that “Horst” had skipped off from a private property on Wednesday evening, and not returned since.
‘You are not losing your mind’
A police spokeswoman said officers were no longer involved in the active search, the local Thüringische Landeszeitung reported. The missing animal is one of two kangaroos that the owner, who has taken over the tracking effort, has had as pets for years.
However, the spokeswoman said police were appealing for residents to keep their eyes open.
“You are not losing your mind, there is indeed a kangaroo on the loose in Erfurt,” she said.
People are allowed to keep the animals as pets, provided they can meet conditions that allow them to live in a way appropriate to their species.
The Australian Wildlife Society describes Bennett’s tree-kangaroos as “very elusive” or “cryptic.” They are found in a relatively small area of roughly 70 kilometers by 50 kilometers (roughly 45 miles by 30 miles) of tropical rainforests south of Cooktown, in the far north of Queensland.
As natural a herbivore, the Bennett’s tree-kangaroo normally likes to munch away on umbrella trees, vines, ferns, and wild fruits.
Although it is listed as “near threatened,” the species’ numbers seem to be increasing. Its range is also said to be expanding — although not yet as far as central Germany.
It’s not the first time a kangaroo has been on the loose in the country, with the Sauerland region of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia reporting a spate of sightings in 2016.
The previous year, a white kangaroo was found “really happily” hopping through a field near the town of Brühl, close to the German city of Cologne.
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