A baby kangaroo reported missing Tuesday morning in Monroe has been found and is on its way to an animal care facility in Fall City for treatment, police said.
The baby red kangaroo, which is not yet weaned and still needs milk, was purchased as a pet from the Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington on Monday and had apparently been sleeping in a van outside a house in the 300 block of West Main Street before it escaped around 6 a.m. Tuesday, police said.
“The kangaroo woke up and started hopping around the van, and one of the guys at the house opened the van to let it out. It took off and they were unable to catch it,” Willis said Tuesday morning.
Police initially said the kangaroo was 8 weeks old, but Monroe Police Department spokesperson Debbie Willis said later Tuesday they believe it’s 11 or 12 months old. Ray Strom, the Outback Kangaroo Farm owner, said Tuesday the joey was closer to 8 months old.
Strom confirmed the baby still needed to be nursed by its mother, but said the farm has sold younger marsupials — as young as 6 1/2 to 7 months old.
“The idea is you give them a bottle, and that’s how they bond with you,” said Strom, who said he cares for about 20 kangaroos at his farm. He added that he makes sure prospective buyers have an appropriate shelter and outdoor space, and tells them to make sure their cities allow kangaroos as pets before he sells the animals.
When the joey was eventually found in a neighbor’s carport around 11 a.m., Willis said it was in “pretty bad shape,” adding that fear is damaging to baby kangaroos. Handlers and exotic animal experts responded to the carport, and were able to corral the animal and treat it with “calming medication,” police said.
Willis said police don’t believe the owner has a license to have a kangaroo, but even if they did, it’s illegal to keep exotic animals in Monroe.
A Washington State Department of Agriculture spokesperson confirmed kangaroos are permitted to enter the state, but may be prohibited in certain counties and cities. It’s up to the local jurisdictions to establish and enforce exotic animal rules, the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Seattle Times.
The focus right now is on making sure the joey is OK and then investigators will determine whether the owner will face any charges or a fine, Willis said. She added that it’s going to take a couple of days to know how the kangaroo is recovering.
Officials aren’t planning to return the animal to the person who bought it from the farm, Willis said. Instead, they transferred it to a handler who has a care facility in Fall City and is equipped to care for kangaroos, she said.
“We’re doing what we think is best for the animal,” Willis said.
The Outback Kangaroo Farm, a wildlife park with a variety of marsupials and other animals available to view on guided tours, also offers kangaroos and wallabies for sale as “exotic pets,” according to its website.
“Kangaroos are very rewarding pets due to their friendliness, beauty and the entertainment they provide,” the farm’s website says. “With the proper care and attention to their needs, you’re sure to enjoy a long, beautiful relationship with your new kangaroo.”